A section of Highway 89 near Marble Canyon that collapsed a year ago could again see traffic by the end of 2014. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the project must first be given the go ahead by the federal government in order to receive funding.
Earlier this week, the Arizona Department of Transportation submitted the final environmental documentation to the Federal Highway Administration for approval. If it’s accepted, the state will receive a complete reimbursement for the approximately $25-million cost of the repairs to Highway 89.
ADOT says that following a geological assessment last summer, rerouting the collapsed section of the highway 60 feet inward toward the Echo Cliffs will be necessary. This will involve blasting the cliff face and creating a rock buttress to stabilize the section of road. According to ADOT, the plan was deemed safe by a team of outside geologists.
Dustin Krugel, spokesman for ADOT, says the agency has quickly moved ahead with the project, in part, to help local residents.
“We understand that if you’re living in Marble Canyon and Bitter Springs and you need to get to Page and Lake Powell, there’s still a significant detour for you. So that’s why we really want to get Highway 89 back open as soon as possible.”
As a result of the February 2013 collapse, ADOT completed alternate route US89T last summer connecting The Gap with Page. According to ADOT, without any major snags, construction will begin early this summer and could be completed by the end of the year.