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More than two acres of hillside slides in Haines

Posted: January 22, 2012 - 10:25pm  |  Updated: January 23, 2012 - 1:04am

At least one house is in danger as a 500-foot long section of Oceanview hillside along the Lutak Road slides toward the ocean.

Haines Borough officials were first alerted to the slide on Jan. 16. Approximately eight inches of lateral movement was measured on Lutak Road (also known as Haines Highway) during the following day.

The slide caused cracks in the highway, according to Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Maintenance Superintendent Greg Patz.

“Some run the width of the highway,” Patz said. “You can actually stick a shovel handle down in two to three feet.”

The Oceanview hillside is covered in large cracks in the snow cover indicating cracks in the ground beneth, Patz said.

According to a Borough of Haines report “there are major ground cracks, including surface ruptures [and] tension cracks, lateral spreading and differential settlement, over a large area. If viewed from above, the cracks would appear to be in the shape of a large horseshoe.”

Patz said a large quantity of water is running out from under the slide, from the slip plane, and onto the beach. This is indicative of one material sliding on top of the other, he said. The Haines Borough and ADOT&PF are both monitoring slope movement.

Patz said ADOT&PF will install a sign to warn of a pavement break on Lutak Road. Maintenance workers have filled the cracks to keep the road from falling in on itself.

“As long as the movement is fairly slow we can continue to fill the cracks,” Patz said. However, the cracks are not all just an opening in the asphalt, he said. On some, one side of the crack could be higher than the other. “But we’re taking steps to keep the road open.”

Drivers are advised to travel slowly through the area due to the rough road. Oceanview is closed to non‐local resident traffic.

Lutak Road is the state highway from town to the ferry terminal at five mile Lutak Road.

Lutak serves as a right of way for water, sewer and power lines for Haines. The borough injected dye into the sewer system to see if the sewer line was breached — no indication of a breach so far.

The Lutak Road sewer system serves around 100 homes in the Highland Estates and Skyline areas of Haines. A single sewer main serves all 100 homes. Public Utilities and Public Works crews plan to bypass the sewer main using hose and pump to connect two manholes on either side of the slide.

Resident in the area could also see breaks in potable water service, according to the Haines report. “Oceanview Road residents have been advised to fill containers with potable water,” the report says.

Alaska Power and Telephone is also closely monitoring their overhead transmission wires. The power company released excessive tension from its lines caused by a power pole moved in the slide.

Haines Cable Television plans to remove its cables from utility poles in the slide area.

Haines Borough brought in an engineer from PND Engineers based in Seattle to advise on proper monitoring and planning should the situation worsen.

The Borough set up a command Center in the office of Borough Director of Public Works Brian Lemcke on Jan. 19. Roc Ahrens, a local disaster planner, will monitor and record the event. Ahrens releases a daily written update by phone at 907-766-2258 and online at the Haines Borough website.

Bumps and cracks are not new to Lutak Road, according to a Haines Borough report. ADOT&PF recently performed major repairs in the same section as the current cracking.

There is one house located on the water side of Lutak Road within the slide zone. The owner of the home spent at least one night away from home due to the event.

There are three occupied residential homes located on the uphill side of Oceanview. The occupants have been notified. The homes are not believed to be in imminent danger, the Haines report says.

Lutak Road connects the Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry Terminal and the Lutak cargo dock with the downtown Haines area. It also provides access to the Yukon and Interior Alaska.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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