Temporary highway opens after road damaged by landslide near Lake Powell

Posted at 9:11 PM, Aug 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-29 23:11:30-04

PAGE, Arizona - Drivers headed to Lake Powell and Northern Arizona this Labor Day will have another option now that a temporary highway is open, connecting Highway 89.

A 500-foot section of US 89 was closed earlier this year after a landslide. Since then the path has been a long one.

“We’ve been sending drivers on a detour route that’s approximately 115 miles long,” said ADOT public information officer Dustin Krugel.

But now the time will be cut a fraction of that, as ADOT opened the new temporary detour Thursday. Krugel said it comes after several studies and public meetings to find the right spot.

“US-89T, formerly Navajo Route 20,” Krugel said. “Drivers can take highway 89 through Page, and then take US-89T to reconnect to US-89.”

The new highway comes after long talks with local Native American agencies and the Federal Highway Administration. The once dirt road underwent major improvements to handle the heavy US-89 traffic.

“We’re still in the process of putting fencing along this route, this route has a lot of livestock in the area,” Krugel said. “In the meantime, there will be a 25 mph speed limit, and it will only be open during daylight hours.”

As the name suggests, 89T is just temporary. It serves as a fast detour while ADOT puts into place their permanent solution for the US-89 landslide. That plan includes rebuilding the broken section of highway, approximately 60 feet away from the hillside.

“We’re going to build a gravity rock buttress at the slope of the mountain,” Krugel said. “This will stabilize the landslide area.

That permanent solution is expected to take two years to complete. At that time, ADOT will give US-89T back to the Navajo Nation.