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Alaska Highway closed due to mudslides, washouts in Yukon

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Posted: Friday, June 8, 2012 1:22 pm

FAIRBANKS - All roads leading to Alaska from the Yukon Territory were blocked Friday after flooding from heavy rains wiped sections out. Road crews along the Alaska Highway were working to fix the washouts and mudslides, some of which were severe enough that it could take days to repair.

The Yukon Territory’s Highways and Public Works spokeswoman Aisha Montgomery said the multiple closures arrived after an extraordinary weather system came through the area — she said flooding to this extent is not normal.

“It’s just a combination of heavy snowpack and heavy rain and warming,” she said.

Montgomery said a big weather system swept through the southern Yukon Territory. The system had passed by Friday, but crews were waiting for water levels to recede to start working on the roads. They expect nice weather this weekend, which she said will aid the workers’ progress.

As to when roads would be cleared, Montgomery said, “We’re hesitant to give specific times.”

She said many travelers are patiently waiting in towns along the highway, and she doesn’t want to give them false hope to start driving before the roads are cleared.

The Alaska Highway is closed for 70 miles from Destruction Bay to Haines Junction and for 150 miles from Teslin to Junction 37. The Klondike Highway was also closed due to washouts.

Montgomery said about 100 people were stranded Friday at the Rancheria Lodge in between a mudslide and a washout in the Teslin and Junction 37 closure. The Yukon Territory government is coordinating its efforts to keep those people fed throughout the closure.

One washout in that section stretched about 200 feet and was about 20 feet deep. She said it could take a day or two to repair — possibly with a temporary bridge.

“It’s basically a river running through there,” Montgomery said.

For updates on the highway throughout the weekend, check www.511yukon.ca/.

Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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