Rockfall danger at Seward Highway water pipe

Published: Sep. 7, 2017 at 3:07 PM AKDT
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Rockfall danger at a popular water spout along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage is prompting a warning from the Alaska Department of Transportation.

"Just recently, we had some rockfall right at the water spout, some pretty big rocks came down," said Shannon McCarthy, spokesperson for DOT.

The danger has temporarily halted plans to install new safety signs, warning drivers of pedestrians crossing the road to the water spigot. DOT's geologist plans on checking out rock conditions in the area before any further action is taken.

The stretch of highway between Potter Marsh and Girdwood is known for rockfall hazards, McCarthy said, especially during fall and spring.

"The conditions that we see that proceed rockfall are high winds, heavy rains, so now would be a really poor time to be collecting water. If you can avoid it now, it would be better," McCarthy said.

DOT says a drain hole was drilled into the rock face years ago to relieve pressure, and it was never intended to be a source of drinking water. Through the years, people have inserted plastic pipe into the drain hole so they can collect water in jugs and bottles.

David Mosqueda, who was collecting water Thursday morning, said he was not concerned about the rockfall danger, comparing it to other potential hazards of life in Alaska. "I mean, be careful like anywhere else around here," Mosqueda said. 'I mean, you got rocks, bears, moose...take your pick," he said with a laugh.

DOT said previously it does not favor trying to ban people from collecting water at the spigot because officials consider it to be a recreational activity.

DOT says the number to report rockfall on the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Indian is 338-1466.