Repair work is progressing on the northern end of the Dalton Highway, where breakup flooding has made the road impassable for nearly 2 weeks. Water began dropping back last weekend, leaving behind extensive damage, and Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says there’s no repair timeline.
“This is gonna be a really big task. It will take several days, and at this point we really don’t have an estimate on when the road will be able to be re-opened.”
The closure extends from mile 335, all the way to mile 412 near Deadhorse. Bailey says repairs have been focused on at either end of the closed section, laying culverts, filling in erosion and diverting around thawed roadbed.
“Ice lenses have been impacted by the water, so there’s unstable soil now.”
Bailey says a full accounting of the damage won’t be available until crews can reach damaged sections in the middle of the closed area. She says repairs done so far this spring have cost 5 million dollars.
The most northern section of the closed section of the highway, between mileposts 391 and 412 is the focus of a scheduled 27 million dollar reconstruction project to elevate the roadbed. Bailey says the new damage has changed the project timeline.
“Originally this was going to be divided into 2 separate construction projects, and were going to start on one half this year, and start on the other half next year, and instead of doing that we’re gonna go in and start on the entire flooded section this year, which makes sense because we have all of this repair work that will have to happen anyways.”
Bailey says the project also includes additional culverts and hard surfacing of the highway. Some overflow and flooding have been an issue on the Dalton Highway south of Deadhorse for years, but Bailey this spring’s more extensive problems are considered an anomaly, and the state does not anticipate having to raise the grade of other sections of the road.