Plan in place for Willow ice jam

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 11:22 PM AKST
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A plan is now in place to begin dealing with the Willow Creek ice-jam which has led to many residential homes along Deneki Road to be flooded and then frozen after Tuesday’s Mat-Su Borough Assembly meeting.

According to Director of Public Works, Terry Dolan, they are going to dig a trench through the ice alongside Willow Creek starting past the bridge where the ice-jam is. They’ll work the trench upstream to where water is diverting from the river causing the flooding.

This will then allow the water to flow under the bridge more normally and allow crews to hopefully clear the thick layer of ice that formed on the road making it impassable.

Presentation of the plan was met with caution, but was passed in the end.

“We expect cost of the construction work to put the water back into the stream will cost right in the neighborhood of $40,000,” Dolan said, “we’ve probably already spent that much, maybe more, trying to maintain the roadways.”

Dolan said they’ve been working with HDL Engineering Conultants LLC to devise the plan. They believe this to be the best solution given the circumstances. However, it comes with some level of risk.

“The state is worried about liability as a result of the work that we’re doing,” Dolan said, “so problems like an ice-jam that maybe causes more flooding downstream and damage to private property and public road ways.”

So the condition of moving forward with the plan is that the Mat-Su Borough is liable for anything that could go wrong as a result.

Some Assembly Members highlighted that the borough doesn’t want to find itself in a poor financial situation or legal battle as a result of possible damages.

However, when it came time to vote, they decided they needed to do something to help the residents impacted by the flooding. No one objected.

The trench is going to be dug starting on Wednesday, January 8th. Dolan said it should take about three days to finish.

In the meantime, a bypass road has been built alongside Deneki Road that residents can use to get in and out of the flooded areas. Only vehicles with four-wheel drive and a high clearance are supposed to use it.

The Assembly also voted to extend the borough’s disaster declaration to January 21st.