DEADHORSE — Unprecedented flooding continues to interfere with daily operations on the North Slope oil patch after surging waters wiped away swaths of the Dalton Highway and isolated a section of Deadhorse, the jumping-off point for the sprawling industrial region.
“This is just epic,” said Mike Coffey, commander of the unified incident command, a response team consisting of the state, the North Slope Borough and oil companies. “People who have been here for decades say they’ve never seen anything like it.”
The state has estimated the costs of the damage and repairs since March at $5.1 million. The federal government may pay for much of that, since the icing and flooding on the highway has been declared a disaster, said Coffey, the director of state transportation maintenance and operations.
Jack said “Holy Sh**!” when he looked at the Alaska Department of Transportation page today. Not because of the photos of the road flooding but when he saw this:
2015: Dalton Highway 401-414 Reconstruction, will start this summer and is a two year project. Construction contract award is $27 million. The scope of the project is to reconstruct the Dalton Highway from Mile Post 401-414, improvements include raising the grade seven feet, replacing culverts and surfacing the road.
2016: Dalton Highway 379-401 Reconstruction, scheduled for construction in 2016, estimated cost is $40-50 million. The scope of the project is to reconstruct the Dalton Highway from Mile Post 379-401, improvements including raising the grade seven feet, replacing culverts and surfacing the road.
Here are two aerial photos of the flooding, both from the Alaska DOT webpage. Click on the photos for more info on the captions.
On the left you can see the remnants of a berm that was created by excavators to hopefully hold the water back and direct it away from the road. But the water has now spilled over the road and broken through the berm. You can also see how the road is washing away. From AK DOT webpage.
On the top of the photo are more berms that were created to direct the water away from the road. From AK DOT webpage.
This is a video from trucker John Slater that shows how the Dalton looked last Saturday. The road is now closed because of the overflowing Sag River making it impassable once again. See prior posts for more info.
Here is a quick video from when Jack went through the cleared lane that the State of Alaska loader made after the avalanche on Atigun Pass. Don’t forget you can change the settings in the lower right hand corner if the video looks grainy.
A few days ago Jack was held up for a couple of hours because of this avalanche that blocked the road on Atigun Pass. To me, it looks like a small avalanche. But Jack says this is the average amount of snow that usually falls on the road in this spot. Other areas involve more snow, or less.
If a truck was caught in the path of this avalanche, it could have pushed the truck over the guard rail and ended up rolling it down the hill. This is very rare nowadays since the State of Alaska does more avalanche control, shooting artillery at the mountain to dislodge the snow.
You can see the blocked road, the loader removing the snow, and also the melt water that was running alongside the road before the avalanche and which is crossing the road afterward. The last photo shows the loader dumping water as well as snow. They are best viewed if you click on the first one and scroll to the right. I had to substantially lighten the photos because of low light conditions. You can see the sun over the next hill and all the trucks waiting on the other side of the blockage. This is about 10:30 at night.