Thane slide closes 1 lane

Posted: Wednesday, December 03, 2003

A landslide sent part of Thane Road's base slipping to the beach below, reducing traffic to a single lane on Tuesday.

Mike Coffey, regional maintenance manager for the Alaska Department of Transportation, said he hopes to begin looking for a contractor by the end of the week to rebuild the hill that now rests as debris on the beach.

The landslide, which happened Monday, left a sheer cliff at the edge of a curve just uphill from the end of the designated avalanche area. The guardrail was hanging on the edge Tuesday.

Traffic at the site has been reduced to one lane. Special constant-burning lights to alert drivers and shift traffic were supposed to be flown to Juneau on Tuesday night and were expected to be set up today, Coffey said.

"It appears to be an act of God," Coffey said of the slide, after meeting with engineers Tuesday afternoon.

He added that, geologically, the landslide was "typical of Southeast Alaska."

The material sitting against the bedrock became saturated with water over time, through freezes and thaws. It wasn't the result of any single weather event. DOT first noticed the problem Friday, Coffey said. A crack on the hill adjacent to the slide area also was found and will be repaired when the fallen hillside is restored.

Rebuilding the hill will require permits from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Army Corps of Engineers, he said.

Tuesday morning ended with snow showers, and a survey crew worked through the afternoon, compiling information so the area could be mapped on computer. Hydrologists and engineers will determine the type and size rock needed to fix the problem.

Coffey said he hoped drawings would be ready today. From there, staff will have to determine how much rock is needed. He said he also will look for a source for the rock.

He couldn't say when the hill would be repaired. In the meantime, yield signs will be put in place to make the road as safe as possible.

Twenty-five water-filled barriers are expected to be in place Friday to delineate the usable roadway. Coffey said DOT will try to fill in the ditch adjacent to the usable lane so people feel safer.

When the hill's reconstruction does begin, DOT will minimize traffic disruptions. Although the work will be done from the beach up, the materials will have to be delivered down from Thane Road, Coffey said.

As an added precaution, DOT trimmed the tops of nearby trees that had grown higher than power lines - "just in case any more of the hillside starts sliding," he said.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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