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Work to clear Hatcher Pass avalanches pushed back to Friday

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 8:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Hatcher Pass has been closed for more than a week due to several avalanches in one area. Crews from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities planned to try clearing the debris Thursday, but that’s been delayed by one day.

“It’s a good weather window on Friday and our crews are just finishing up on the Seward Highway which was pretty mess the last couple of days,” said DOT Spokesperson Shannon McCarthy.

Debris from five avalanches has kept the road closed since Easter Sunday. The first step will see crews drop explosives from a helicopter into some of the remaining loose snow at the top of the mountain. That’s to reduce the threat of more avalanches. Work to clear the debris will start after that.

“We have lost operators in avalanche work,” McCarthy said. “It’s really critical for us to make sure that we are giving them the safest work environment possible to do their jobs.”

Avalanches are common in Hatcher Pass, but not to the extent of what happened nearly two weeks ago.

“These conditions are a once-in-a-40-year event,” said McCarthy said. “Unfortunately, they happened this spring.”

Plans call for crews to start their work just after sunrise Friday. They will need about three days to remove all of the debris before they can reopen the road. People are advised to avoid the area until then.

The road closure begins just past the entrance to Skeetawk ski area. It remains open for business.

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