Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Crane knocks out power on north Glacier Highway

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JUNEAU - A hazardous tree gave workers even more troubles than they had expected Tuesday afternoon, and led to a lengthy power outage.

While removing part of an old tree that posed a danger to motorists near Randall Road on Glacier Highway, a crane toppled over and caused damage to three power poles, said David Stone of Alaska Electric Light and Power. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities had requested a planned power outage in the area from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but after the poles were damaged the power remained out into the early evening.

"We lost three poles and all the wires were strewn across the street," Stone said. "As one engineer described to me, it looked like spaghetti."

Stone said the tree had become a problem and needed to be removed because of the DOT/PF road-widening project.

Nobody was injured during the accident, but a man was stranded in a tree and required the services of Capital City Fire and Rescue to get down. Stone said many residents who live out the road were left without power for much of the day.

White Pass expects to resume rail service after avalanche

SKAGWAY - The White Pass and Yukon Railroad is expected to be back in operation today after a Monday night avalanche 14.1 miles up from Skagway shut down traffic Tuesday.

"Thank God, nobody was hurt, and no equipment was damaged," said President Gary Danielson Tuesday night. He said the mountainside snow came down at 6:15 p.m. Monday at an area called Glacier Station. The evening train was up the tracks, 22 minutes from reaching the area and unable to return to Skagway, he explained.

The train stopped and took its 91 passengers to Fraser, British Columbia, and they bused back to Skagway, Danielson said. Everyone connecting with cruise ships in port returned in time, he added.

"It was quite a large avalanche," Danielson said. It was about 350 feet long and 70 feet deep, in a chute where there hadn't been an avalanche since 1973, he added.

"We dispatched our crews at 7 p.m., and they worked through the night," Danielson said. It was cleared by 10 a.m. Tuesday. Although the train was brought back to Skagway without passengers Tuesday, the schedule was canceled for the entire day to allow for safety inspections.

The area was surveyed twice by helicopter Tuesday, and the railroad planned to send up a work train at 5 a.m. to check it further.

The railroad was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. The tour covers one of the routes prospectors took.



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