Trains transport motorists after slide

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Railroad is operating its passenger trains to pick up stranded motorists after a rock slide has closed off vehicle traffic to Whittier.

Railroad officials say they will run passenger trains twice daily this week between Whittier and Anchorage.

State transportation officials say the tunnel will likely remain blocked to road traffic, but not train traffic, until late Wednesday. The slide Saturday buried the road, but not the tracks, with rubble up to 30 feet high in some places.

The state Department of Transportation on Monday sent geologists to assess the safety of the slide area before work crews go in. It also hopes to award a contract for debris removal.

Officials say the tunnel could reopen late Wednesday if the debris is removed.

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