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Sterling Highway reopened to one lane after landslide

Traffic now moving with flagging operations in place
The Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing is now reopen after a landslide temporarily closed the...
The Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing is now reopen after a landslide temporarily closed the road near milepost 50 in the early morning hours of Oct. 31.(Alaska 511)
Published: Oct. 31, 2021 at 9:56 AM AKDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 2:21 PM AKDT
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COOPER LANDING, Alaska (KTUU) - The Sterling Highway is partially reopened, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, after a landslide completely blocked the road near milepost 50 for over a full day, starting early Sunday morning.

Heavy rains on the Kenai Peninsula caused three landslides over the weekend. The slide near Cooper Landing was approximately 100 feet wide, according to department spokesperson Shannon McCarthy.

Motorists stuck waiting on either side of the Sterling Highway closure were unable to pass Sunday and early Monday. According to a Facebook post by the department, the section of highway was expected to reopen to a single lane around noon, with flagging operations being conducted by construction crews. The department also said a repair crew will be arriving to fix the guardrail.

“Crews are still working but the slopes are still moving,” McCarthy said Sunday. “It’s a pretty big one. It’s across both lanes. Maintenance set up traffic control early (Sunday) morning.”

By Monday at 1 p.m., the highway had reopened with one lane of traffic, under the control of flaggers, according to a Facebook post by the department.

“Guardrail repairs and clearing are on going, so please expect waits of up to an hour,” the post reads.

A landslide has temporarily closed the Sterling Highway near milepost 50 after heavy rains...
A landslide has temporarily closed the Sterling Highway near milepost 50 after heavy rains caused the slide in the early morning of Oct. 31.(Alaska DOT&PF)

According to a Sunday afternoon update on the department’s Facebook page, work began clearing debris at 10:40 a.m.

“Work is going as quickly as possible but the continued rain is making clearing difficult,” the department wrote in an update.

Two other small landslides were reported near milepost 21 and milepost 45 of the Seward Highway. Debris from both slides was quickly removed from the roadway. McCarthy said that the “excessive rain” that has fallen on the Kenai Peninsula made soils wet and heavy, causing all three landslides that entered the roadway.

Aerial view of the landslide that closed the Sterling Highway Oct. 31, 2021.
Aerial view of the landslide that closed the Sterling Highway Oct. 31, 2021.(Alaska Department of Transportation)
Aerial view of the landslide that closed the Sterling Highway Oct. 31, 2021.
Aerial view of the landslide that closed the Sterling Highway Oct. 31, 2021.(Alaska Department of Transportation)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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