Seward Highway areas still unstable after earthquake

 Landslide on the Seward Highway. Photo courtesy Daniel Roberto.
Landslide on the Seward Highway. Photo courtesy Daniel Roberto. (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 17, 2018 at 3:53 PM AKST
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Unstable conditions along the Seward Highway will be fixed by the Department of Transportation to ensure there are fewer rock slides.

DOT says there are several areas between mileposts 104 and 114 that will either have rock bolts, or mesh installed to try to stop falling rock before it reaches the road, or scaling where a loader would bring down loose material.

The popular water spout has also been removed, and there is an orange barrier installed around it.

"We have our geologists looking at it," Shannon McCarthy, a spokesperson for DOT, said. "A lot of rock came down and so what we're really looking at now is are there any areas that have significantly changed where we can get some additional rock fall or large rock fall falling down."

The Seward Highway, famous for being one of the most beautiful and dangerous drives in the country, saw significant rock fall after the 7.0 earthquake on Nov. 30.

In Girdwood, it seems almost everyone has a rock slide story.

"It's scary," Matthew Coats said as he headed off to snowboard, "definitely see a lot more debris on the side of the road now."

Julian Mason, who drives to Girdwood at least four times a week during the ski season, said he's seen worse areas that are prone to rock slides.

"I'm not scared, but I'm conscious of them," Mason said.

DOT says the rock face has always been unstable because of the way the highway was constructed. The earthquake made it even more noticeable.

"This area has always been active. I mean ever since the road was originally blasted, obviously they used dynamite and that makes for some irregular rock formations," McCarthy said.

McCarthy says the design phase of the fixes has just been approved. In the meantime, DOT doesn't want people to stop along these mile markers. Officials especially do not want people to try and stop to get water from the old water spout.

"That's an area that's been shedding a lot of rock," McCarthy said.