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Floodwaters erode highway, cut off Alaska Railroad

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Posted: Saturday, September 22, 2012 8:46 am | Updated: 11:30 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - Floodwaters have stopped all train traffic between Anchorage and Fairbanks, closed out the Richardson and Denali highways and caused serious problems on the Parks Highway.

The Alaska Railroad was washed out north of Talkeetna on Friday, halting all northbound train traffic until Monday. A 500-foot section of track just south of Gold Creek was washed out and several bridges are at risk between Willow and Talkeetna, according to a railroad news release.

Passenger traffic has been disrupted since Tuesday because of high winds and extreme weather. The track is open between Anchorage, Whittier and Seward, where several minor washouts have been repaired. Freight service between Anchorage and Fairbanks has been halted until at least Monday.

On Saturday morning, the Parks Highway was down to one lane at 240 Mile, in the Nenana River Canyon just north of the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve due to erosion from high water, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation. Flaggers are in place on either side and DOT crews are monitoring the water level. At this time, the water is too high and too fast to hold material. Crews are waiting for the water level to recede before making repairs.

Heavy rain also washed out the gravel Denali Highway at 118 Mile, about 20 miles east of Cantwell on Saturday. Crews were waiting for waters to recede before making repairs. The road is closed at least until Monday, DOT said Friday.

The Richardson Highway is closed just north of Valdez due to high water in Keystone Canyon. More rain is expected to fall and it is unknown when water levels will recede enough to reopen the highway.

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