Dalton Highway Remains Closed Due to Flooding
Airport is open 24 hours a day for flights; closure is expected to last several more days.
(FAIRBANKS, Alaska) –The Dalton Highway remains closed from Mile 334.5-413 due to flooding. Water levels in Deadhorse and on the Dalton Highway are still very high, but since yesterday, there have been no new areas of flooding. Experts predict that water levels will remain high for the next few days, but this is dependent on weather. The road closure is anticipated to last into next week, at the least.
The Deadhorse Airport remains open 24 hours a day for flights. The airport and runway are several feet above the water level. Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) staff remain confident that operations at the airport will not be impacted. High water yesterday briefly impacted navigational aids, so ADOT&PF crews cut breaches across the access road and MP 413 of the highway as an outlet for the water. The breaches were very successful, water dropped within hours and navigational aids were turned back on.
Break-up of the Sag River usually takes approximately four weeks. Unusually high temperatures north of the Brooks Range have caused snow and ice to melt much more rapidly than usual, and the break-up this season is very condensed. The rapid melting of the snow and ice has a greater impact this year because of the ice overflow that occurred in April. There is a large amount of ice remaining in the channels of the Sag River; this ice reduces the channel capacity, causing the water to flood.
ADOT&PF is staging equipment and material on the north and south ends of the flood area. When the flood waters recede, crews are prepared to immediately begin making repairs to the road. The extent of the damage will not be known entirely until the water levels drop.
Hydrologists are documenting the flow and volume of the Sag River during this event. Not many records exist for this area. The information being gathered now will be incorporated into future road construction.
Updates on the Dalton Highway are being posted in these locations:
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 239 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 776 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”
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