DOT&PF Reopens Portage Glacier Highway in Alaska

Wed June 24, 2009 - West Edition
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The Portage Glacier Highway reopened two lanes of traffic April 24 after crews removed debris from an April 11 rock slide, according to Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) officials.

The rock slide blocked Portage Glacier Highway by spilling tons of rock and debris onto the road, severely hampering access to Whittier.

The April 11 rock slide left a 300-ft. (91 m) wide pile of rubble as high as 30 ft. (9.1 m) on the road.

DOT&PF officals said that work crews mobilized drilling rigs to the top of a slope above Portage Glacier Highway and began drilling and blasting a rock slab that posed a potential safety hazard.

“Once the drill rigs are established on top of the slope, air and water supply can be established for the operations,” said Frank Richards, DOT&PF’s Deputy Commissioner of Highways and Public Facilities. “When everything is in place, the contractor will drill and blast 24 hours a day.”

The blast brought down about 13,000 cu. yds. (9,940 cu m) of rock and debris.

“We’re really happy to reestablish highway and tunnel access to Whittier”, said Gordon Keith, DOT&PF’s central regional director. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding while we safely worked through this dangerous situation.”

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