Richardson Highway Reopens After Avalanche Debris Removed

The wait is over for residents in Valdez.  The Richardson Highway is now completely open to motorists ahead of schedule.

The announcement comes after avalanches buried and flooded the roadway nearly two weeks ago.

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Valdez residents now have complete access to the Richardson Highway thanks to crews spending most of the night and this morning removing avalanche debris and snow from the Keystone Canyon area.

Spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says the Alaska Department of Transportation had expected to reopen the area around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday.

“By 10:00 a.m. they were confident that everything that needed to be done to have the road open was done,” Woodrow said. “And so we’re updating electronic signs to let people know along the Richadson [Highway] that they can drive out of Valdez and to Valdez.”

“And we’d call it a soft opening, but if the folks in town want to get out, they can do it now.”

Woodrow says drivers still have to be cautious of construction equipment near the roadway.  He also says there is a possibility that slides may occur in the area later this winter.

This was the final phase before DOT could completely reopen the Richardson Highway. The northern portion of the avalanche area from Milepost 18 to 42 was reopened last week.

Tony Gorman is a reporter at KCHU in Valdez.

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