Peger Road Log Jam

Floating debris accumulates on the upriver side of the Peger Road bridge over the Chena River forming a bank-to-bank log jam in the high water caused by recent rainfall Friday morning, August 23, 2019.

Boaters are being warned to stay off the Chena River due to a logjam that has bottled up the waterway near Pioneer Park.

“There’s a logjam there underneath Peger Road on the Chena River,” said Caitlin Frye, Alaska Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The river, which is high as a result of heavy rainfall, travels under a section of Peger Road that runs adjacent to Pioneer Park. Logs have built up across the width of the river, obstructing the waterway and the area beneath the bridge.

Joe McCullough, with the Department of Natural Resources Office of Boating Safety, said boaters should stay off the river, as these types of conditions are unsafe.

“Any time you have a logjam, I wouldn’t be floating on it,” he said.

Strainers or sweepers are a concern, according to McCullough, who explained that these are terms for river debris, usually logs, that affect the rivers in certain ways. Strainers rest higher in the water and, as the name implies, water travels over or under it and strains out, while sweepers such as branches and leaves tend to be overhanging obstacles.

In the case of a logjam, a boater who runs into it risks being pulled under the jam.

“Even though water might be going over the logs, the force itself is going under the log, and that’s where bodies, boats will be propelled or pushed,” McCullough said.

Frye said the situation is not particularly unusual and that DOT bridge experts and hydrologists are monitoring the jam. No other logjams have been reported in the Fairbanks area.

The bridge infrastructure isn’t in danger, according to Frye.

“We do plan on removing the logjam when it’s safe to do so, which is not quite yet,” she said.

Once conditions are safer, she said a bridge maintenance team will move downstream of the logs, then cut them out. This way the logs will float out from under the bridge and travel downstream.

Meanwhile, CanoeAlaska, which is located between the bridge and Pioneer Park, has closed due to the jam. The pedestrian path that travels under Peger Road remains closed as a result of flooding.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter at: twitter.com/FDNMlocal

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