Seward Highway work to continue through October

Workers stabilize the rock walls at mile 110.5 of the Seward Highway
Workers stabilize the rock walls at mile 110.5 of the Seward Highway(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 8:04 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Crews working to shore-up the cliff walls on the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood said work has progressed well in the four weeks since the project went underway. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' $12.8 million rock mitigation project includes seven sites along a stretch of the highway including mile 101.5, which is where crews have been concentrating on their work so far.

“This is one of the larger ones that they felt that they could get done this year,” said DOT&PF Project Engineer Jonathan Tague.

A specialized company out of Oregon, HI-TECH Rockfall Construction, is doing the work. Tague said the mitigation involves several steps including a process called scaling.

“Climbers get on the slopes, they hang from ropes and they have pry bars, and they essentially just clean the loose rock off of the face that might fall,” Tague said.

On Thursday, workers were drilling holes to insert steel bars into the rock, some as deep as 30 feet. Tague said the bars, called rock bolts, will provide tension to keep the rocks in place.

“They put a big hydraulic torque wrench on it that will keep turning the nut until there’s 40,000 to 80,000 pounds of pressure on each bolt,” he said.

One thing they aren’t doing, according to Tague, is blasting rock. He said in the future if a design to realign the highway is made, blasting back the cliff face will be an option.

Work on the highway is scheduled to continue through October, as will one-lane traffic. Flaggers are working Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The project will resume in May.

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