Landslide temporarily shuts down traffic on Richardson Highway

Both directions initially halted as mud and rock overflow the roadway
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 5:15 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:25 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A landslide has shut down traffic on the Richardson Highway after mud and debris covered the roadway near Paxson from mile marker 187 to 188.

Tristan Northway sent in these images of the closure area. Rocks, dirt, and trees are among the debris covering the highway.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities reported the closure on Thursday afternoon. Both lanes were initially closed to traffic, but one lane of the highway was reopened around 4 p.m. By around 9 p.m., the entire highway had reopened, the department posted on Facebook.

Department spokesperson Danielle Tessen said in an email that the initial landslide was about 500 feet wide and up to 6 feet high, just south of the hatchery and north of Paxson Lake.

Landslide near Paxson -1_Tristan Northway 7-1-21
Landslide near Paxson -1_Tristan Northway 7-1-21(Alaska's Weather Source)

Tessen wrote that two loaders arrived about 45 minutes after the slide was reported to begin removing debris from the road, clearing one lane. They continued to work until they had cleared the rest of the road.

“For now travelers can expect pilot car delays of up to 20 minutes and crews working in the area,” Tessen said in the email, when half the road was still closed.

The department also updated Alaska 511 when the road completely reopened.

In a subsequent Facebook post, the department wrote that it appears a broken beaver dam is to blame for the slide. When the dam broke, it caused a “large amount of water to washout downhill from the beaver pond,” the department wrote.

We’re still looking into this, but we think we know what (or who) caused the slide for the #RichardsonClosure. It...

Posted by Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities on Thursday, July 1, 2021

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