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Groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Navajo Route 20 paving project

Modified: Monday, Jun 3rd, 2013

Construction activities on Navajo Route 20 began on May 28 by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The project is expected to be completed by mid-August. (Photo by Rick Abasta)

The Navajo Division of Transportation and Arizona Department of Transportation are ready to break ground on Navajo Route 20, the temporary detour route until U.S. 89 is repaired.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the paving construction of N.R. 20 will take place at 11 a.m. (DST) on June 9 at Tsinaabaas Habitiin Elementary School in Bodaway-Gap.

On May 28, ADOT began construction activities on N.R. 20.

The $35 million project will pave a 28-mile portion of dirt road, which travels from Bodaway-Gap north through Coppermine and ending in LeChee.

N.R. 20 stretches a total length of 44-miles and has connected all three Navajo communities for over 40 years.

The construction project is eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program, which funds the repairs of roadways damaged by natural disasters.

Upon completion of paving, N.R. 20 will be designated as U.S. 89T. After reconstruction of U.S. 89 is complete, the newly-paved U.S. 89T will be returned to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

ADOT closed U.S. 89 on Feb. 20, after a dry slide occurred and damaged the roadway near Bitter Springs.

ADOT expects construction on U.S. 89T to be completed in mid-August to receive traffic.

NDOT, ADOT, FHWA and Bureau of Indian Affairs have been working together since the closure of U.S. 89 to utilize N20 as a detour route.

“The paving of 28-miles of dirt road for use as an emergency detour route is unprecedented for Indian Country,” said Paulson Chaco, director of NDOT. “We have worked closely with ADOT and our other partners to realize this project.”

Currently, motorists are traveling a 115-mile detour, driving east on U.S. 160 to State Route 98 north for access to and from Page. The U.S. 89T detour route will reduce travel time and mileage to Page by half.

Festivities for the groundbreaking ceremony are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. with chapter officials from Bodaway-Gap, Coppermine and LeChee.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly will provide the opening statement.

An overview of the project will be provided by Paulson Chaco of NDOT, Sharon Pinto from the BIA Navajo Region, Jennifer Toth of ADOT, and Karla Petty from the FHWA.

Additional speakers include Navajo Nation Council delegate Duane Tsinigine (Bodaway-Gap, Coppermine, Kaibeto, LeChee, Red Lake-Tonalea) and members of the Resources and Development Committee. Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler is also scheduled to attend.

Information: www.navajodot.org or www.azdot.gov/us89.

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