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Crews repair Parks Highway erosion; work on Alaska Railroad continues

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Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 11:35 pm | Updated: 11:31 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

HEALY, Alaska — The Parks Highway at 240 Mile is expected to open to two lanes of traffic sometime today, as highway crews work to repair the eroded bank of the raging Nenana River.

The river reached its highest stage ever during the weekend — 14.9 feet — and eroded the bank and the highway. Travel was limited to one lane only, via pilot car.

The highway never closed.

Crews worked on the bank all night Saturday and Sunday. Flaggers and the pilot car also worked all night to keep traffic flowing.

The water level began dropping by several feet on Sunday.

Crews used heavy equipment to transport giant boulders from storage and from near Panorama Mountain. The stones were placed at the base of the bank for stabilization. Additional fill was added and compacted.

Once the bank is rebuilt, 20 feet from the roadway, special barriers will be erected for motorists safety.

The repair work is considered emergency repair. Final touches for the project must go out for bid to private contractors.

Meanwhile, the Nenana River continued flooding downstream at Nenana. The city of Nenana reported a foot of water on 10th Avenue, west of the railroad tracks. This is the access road to the Nenana River boat launch. The road to the cemetery also was reported flooded.

The National Weather Service has extended a flood warning for the Nenana River from Rex Bridge to the Tanana River through 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The Alaska Railroad is monitoring the track in the Healy and Nenana area, as well as repairing a major washout just south of Gold Creek, 35 miles north of Talkeetna. The washout left 500 feet of the mainline track dangling. Repair work is expected to be complete by Wednesday.

The washed out track segment runs parallel to the Susitna River and is in a remote area accessible only by rail. Thirty-five workers are rebuilding the washed out track bed from both ends of the site, around the clock.

The railroad also is focusing on a 70-mile stretch of rail corridor between Willow and Gold Creek, affected by high water. Crews will soon turn their attention to that erosion and other spots from Seward to Nenana.

Freight trains normally scheduled to run between Anchorage and Fairbanks will not run until repairs are complete. The regularly scheduled passenger train between Anchorage and Fairbanks was canceled and passengers were transported by coach instead.

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