Dalton Highway could reopen June 5

Courtesy/Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

The Dalton Highway could reopen on June 5 if everything goes right, according to the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

DOT issued a release Friday afternoon stating the tentative reopen date is dependent on weather conditions and the progression of repairs to the northern end of the haul road.

 A more than 30-mile stretch of the Dalton was closed May 18, when melting ice covered the roadway in up to two feet of water.

Since, the closure area has grown to more than 75 miles, from milepost 335 to milepost 413 near Deadhorse.

Ice overflow from the nearby Sag River built up several feet thick in late winter along the northern end of the Dalton between mileposts 390 and 405. That melting ice is now flooding and eroding the roadway.

DOT spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said when the road was closed in May the department had been expecting issues with the melting ice. However, unusually warm weather accelerated spring breakup and compounded the problem.

When the Dalton does reopen, DOT says it will try to have passable corridor at least 20 feet wide through the work zone. There will likely still be some one-lane areas in order to get traffic to the North Slope as soon as possible, according to the department.

Crews are currently installing culverts on the south end of the project area.

The Dalton was closed for about a week beginning April 5 when water trapped by the overflow ice flooded the road surface. Gov. Bill Walker declared the Dalton Highway a state disaster April 7.

Road crews began fighting the overflow in mid-March.

The Legislature appropriated $5 million in emergency funding for the Dalton Highway to the capital budget passed in April.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].

11/21/2016 - 8:07pm