A project to make the Seward Highway safer from falling rocks is underway between miles 104 to 114. The Department of Transportation has hired a geotechnical engineering firm to survey the terrain and make recommendations for a permanent fix.

Project Manager Jon Knowles said falling rocks have been a consistent problem that has only gotten worse since the Nov. 30 earthquake.

In January, a man was nearly killed when a boulder fell and crushed his car. Jason Carter is still in full time treatment for a severe traumatic brain injury, according to his wife.

Just last week, Wasilla resident Ben Johnson had to swerve to avoid a rock slide. Johnson said rocks caused dents and scratches when they bounced into his car but fortunately, he was not injured.

Project Manager Jon Knowles said falling rocks have been a consistent problem that has only gotten worse since the Nov. 30 earthquake.

Crews are working on the Seward Highway trying to keep rocks off the road

“From what we’ve seen, yes, it has gotten worse since the earthquake,” Knowles said. “So hence, the reason this is a priority for the department in looking for ways that we can improve the safety of the Seward Highway.”

Knowles said the plan this summer is to finalize mitigation methods which could include bolting boulders down, scaling back rocks that are likely to fall or putting mesh safety nets on the cliff face.

“And the idea with that is, that if there is some loose rock that comes off that it directs it down into the ditch over here so that our maintenance and operations staff can come and clean that out instead of it toppling onto the road," he said.

The actual construction work will be done next summer, but Knowles said the Federal Highway Money is already in hand. The project is anticipated to run between $10 to $20 million.

Knowles said the survey work will cause some traffic delays. The northbound lane of the Seward highway between Potter Marsh and Indian will have periodic shutdowns.

The work is being performed Monday through Thursday this week and next from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Knowles said it’s possible some pullouts will experience temporary closures during that time while crews do their work.

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