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U.S. 89: The fix is in

Posted: Wednesday, Jul 17th, 2013


Repairing U.S. 89 will cost $40 million and take more than two years, according to ADOT.


[UPDATED JULY 17 WITH QUOTES FROM CITY COUNCIL MEETING]

Repairing the landslide-damaged U.S. 89 would take more than two years and $40 million, the Arizona Department of Transportation recently announced.

Cutting back the mountain slope and constructing a gravity-buttress wall is part of the proposed solution to repair the highway, which was damaged and closed Feb. 20.

 After a geotechnical investigation that included geologic mapping, subsurface exploration and monitoring, laboratory tests and slope stability analyses, the final report has been submitted, according to ADOT.

The 463-page report concludes the recent landslide was a reactivation of a small portion of an ancient landslide, but little to no new movement has occurred since testing began.

The report listed several alternatives for the repair, but construction of a landslide buttress and upslope lane adjustment was considered the most feasible.

The buttress, a wall-like support structure composed of rock, would be built at the base of the slope and the highway travel lanes would be moved farther to the east by creating a new cut into the existing slope in the Echo Cliffs.

When ADOT representatives presented the plan at last week’s city council meeting, Councilor Michael Bryan said, “Two or three years seems like a long time.”

He asked about the decision process and how long it would take for to implement another of the options—simply repaving the highway—Steve Monroe, a construction engineer, estimated about six months.

But Monroe noted that the agency had to balance the cost and time issues against the safety of drivers.

He said the decision was made by ADOT staff who were at a higher level then them.

Monroe told council that much of the time required to repair the highway is related to “environmental paperwork.”

“[The law says] you’ve got to put this out for x number of days for public comment. There’s nothing you can do about it,” Monroe said.

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