• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 14s

Road crews grapple with slides, flooding

By Heather Hintze 5:56 AM January 28, 2014

The highway could be closed through at least Sunday.

VALDEZ – Department of Transportation crews are still figuring out how to clean up the avalanches blocking Thompson Pass.

They happened Friday morning and blocked the Richardson Highway, Valdez’s only connection to Alaska’s road system.

State transportation crews have to wait for some of the water backing up behind the snow to go down before they can begin work with heavy equipment.

The area is still too unstable, so on Monday it was all about assessing it from the air.

Pilots from Vertical Solutions Helicopters made trip after trip to the pass with DOT crews and Valdez city officials. DOT said the good news is the water behind the avalanche appears to be receding, possibly by up to four feet. They said there’s still about 12 to 15 feet of water on some parts of the highway, though

“That’s what happens when you plug a large river like this. Unfortunately we’ve had unseasonably warm weather which has increased flows in that river,” said DOT Engineer Jason Sakalaskas. “Right now we’re estimating that river is flowing about one-third its capacity that it does during the summer when it has normal melt off, glacier and rains. So there’s quite a bit of water we’re dealing with there.”

Valdez City Manager John Hozey took a tour along with the police chief and fire chief to get a firsthand look at the damage.

“Wow, it’s very impressive. You don’t see that kind of snow every day. That area is very prone to avalanche, its called Snow Slide Gulch for a reason. It slides there every year, but not like this,” Hozey said.

Once cleanup crews can actually get to the site there will be at least five to 10 people working around the clock.

“It is a large volume [of snow] but we’ve got a lot of equipment and manpower to do it. So we’re thinking it will only take three, four days to remove the snow, so that’s not too bad, once we actually get to removing the snow and the water’s receded,” said Sakalaskas.

“Our biggest concern is making sure residents are taken care of on that east end for any flooding that might occur. Then just making sure our daily needs are met. Life goes on in Valdez,” Hozey said. “This is just life in the Great Land and we’ll survive.”

Hozey met with the Valdez City Council Monday night to update members on the avalanche. DOT engineers were also there to give an assessment of the situation. Hozey said everyone’s just waiting to see when the water will recede so they can decide what to do next.

DOT said the highway will be closed through at least Sunday.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Governor, education advocates ramp up pressure on Senate over cuts, broad-based tax

    by Liz Raines on Apr 26, 19:34

    Governor Bill Walker and some citizen-led groups are turning up the heat in Juneau on the Senate’s calls for big budget cuts, on day 100 of the 90-day session. Walker pointed to a new report by the state Office of Management and Budget Wednesday to show Alaska’s budget may be bigger than most other states, […]

  • News

    Anchorage homeowners to see property tax increase

    by Bonney Bowman on Apr 26, 19:26

    Anchorage homeowners will have to budget a little more to pay their property taxes. The municipal assembly voted 9 to 2 to increase the mill levy at Tuesday night’s meeting. The mill levy is used to calculate the amount a person owes in taxes. Amy Demboski and Fred Dyson were the two assembly members who […]

  • News

    Bear-resistant trash cans now available in Anchorage

    by Lauren Maxwell on Apr 26, 18:27

    The Government Hill neighborhood that’s had a long history with problem bears is finally getting something residents say they’ve wanted: bear-resistant trash cans. The trash cans weren’t available two summers ago when a black bear with three cubs made regular visits to the neighborhood, attracting huge crowds in the process. The bears were eventually put […]

  • Lifestyle

    Musk ox calf birth caught on camera

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 26, 18:09

    Musk ox momma, Avalanche, welcomed a calf Wednesday afternoon at The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. Around 3:45, workers at the Farm captured the new calf coming into the world. The staff gives the new calf and its mom a few hours to bond before they make contact. So, it’s not yet clear if the […]

  • Couple married 69 years die minutes apart, holding hands

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 16:45

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) – The children of a suburban Chicago couple married for 69 years say their parents died just 40 minutes apart while holding hands at a hospital. Teresa Vatkin died Saturday at 12:10 a.m. at Highland Park Hospital at age 89. Her husband, 91-year-old Isaac Vatkin, died around 12:50 a.m. Relatives say […]

  • Lifestyle

    Neanderthals in California? Maybe so, provocative study says

    by CBS News/Associated Press on Apr 26, 16:05

    NEW YORK – A startling new report asserts that the first known Americans arrived much, much earlier than scientists thought – more than 100,000 years ago. And maybe they were Neanderthals. If true, the finding would far surpass the widely accepted date of about 15,000 years ago. Researchers say a site in Southern California shows […]

  • News

    Alaska Air beats 1Q profit forecasts

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 15:33

    SEATTLE (AP) – Alaska Air Group Inc. (ALK) on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit of $99 million. On a per-share basis, the Seattle-based company said it had net income of 79 cents. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.05 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts […]

  • News

    For $425, Nordstrom will sell you a pair of dirty jeans

    by Associated Press on Apr 26, 15:20

    NEW YORK (AP) – Department store Nordstrom is getting dragged through the mud on social media for selling a pair of dirty-looking jeans for $425. The department store chain says the five-pocket, button-fly dirty denim pants — dubbed PRPS Barracuda straight-legged jeans — are “heavily distressed” and “embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with […]