From the Alaska Department of Transportation website:
The first vehicles traveling south on the Dalton Highway, Mile 413. ADOT&PF photo. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
(PRUDHOE BAY, Alaska) – The Dalton Highway has reopened to traffic after an 18-day closure caused by massive spring breakup flooding.
Traffic began moving on the road at 8 a.m. this morning. The highway is open to two-way traffic, but drivers will encounter a section with flaggers and pilot car at Mile 412-414. The road remains in rough condition through the flood zone at Miles 392-414, with multiple narrow sections and an uneven surface. Drivers are urged to travel slowly and watch for signs.
The reopening of the highway marks a milestone for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF), which has been handling the Dalton flood response since the initial overflow problems in March. The cost of this spring’s emergency response totals $15.5 million.
Flooding on the section of highway south of Deadhorse began in mid-March when overflow from the Sagavanirktok (Sag) River began spilling onto the highway. River aufeis accumulated in the bottom of the shallow and braided river and pushed the flowing water to the top, though temperatures in the area remained below freezing.
Jack was able to call and he is fine. The road is closed with no sign of being open soon. He is there with 4 or 5 other trucks waiting to get offloaded to a tractor-type vehicle with tracks. Jack described it like an International Harvester with triangle tracks. Several of them are running back and forth to Prudhoe, skirting the flooded area.
I was worried that there were more trucks all having to idle because it’s so cold but that’s not a concern. There are only a few trucks and some of them have generators so they don’t have to idle for cab heat. And someone brought them food and water some time ago. He’s not having fun, but he’s not too miserable either. It’s just a waiting game until he can get offloaded and head back (and then probably head right back up again).
Coldfoot was really busy when Jack went through on Thursday; no one else is being told to head up to Prudhoe except some fuel trucks. And no one is waiting on the Prudhoe side. They’ve all been told to go back. Many have been flown out and since resources are so short they are probably running essential personnel only.
Jack is a bit mad at himself for not leaving town more prepared. He had 3 gallons of water and some food which is almost gone. But no extra clothes and all kinds of other stuff it’d be nice to have like a laptop to watch movies on to help pass the time. He says the people who are handling this mess are working on putting systems in place to make everything more stream-lined, but at present it’s still a work in progress. This might be the new normal for a while. Everyone saw the water getting higher and higher and no one could do anything about it, like watching a slow motion disaster.
The below photos are from about 10 days ago when the road was still passable, but barely. The best way to view them is to click on the first one and scroll through.