Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Governor Sean Parnell has declared the Taylor Highway flood damage a disaster. Yesterday’s decision allows the state to seek federal highway emergency relief funding to pay for fixing washouts along a 90 plus mile stretch of the road between Chicken and Eagle. The state estimates the cost of fixing damage from a July 10 rain storm, at $6 million. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says emergency repairs that allowed a portion of the gravel road to re-open briefly, were taken out by the more heavy rain late last week.
Bailey says the state is dealing with a total of 23 damaged areas between Chicken and Eagle, where rains have caused washouts and mud slides. She says the area has had so much rain in recent weeks that the road bed is unstable.
The 60 miles from the Top of the World Highway junction to Eagle has been closed for more than two weeks. The Eagle Trading Company is having to fly in groceries to keep shelves stocked, and tourism has slowed dramatically throughout the Taylor Highway region. Susan Wiren who runs a gas station, restaurant, bar, and gift shop, in Chicken, says the road closures are killing business.
Wiren says she understands the D.O.T. is doing all it can, and hopes to salvage some business this week if the section from Chicken to the Junction can be repaired.
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