Arizona Bypass Fully Opens, Carrying Traffic after Landslide Ravages Roadway

AASHTO Journal, 18 October 2013

The Arizona Department of Transportation this week eliminated all restrictions on the US 89 detour (US 89T), just months after the original US 89 was destroyed by a landslide.

The $35 million detour was originally opened in late August (three months after construction on the detour began), but drivers experienced several restrictions. After some fencing along the corridor to keep livestock off the roadway, final lane striping, and the installation of recessed pavement markings for safety, ADOT said all restrictions are gone and motorists can now travel its normal 55 mph speed.

About 500 feet of US 89 buckled on Feb. 20, causing the roadway to slide, crack, and tear. Since the roadway was so severely damaged, ADOT had to close a 23-mile stretch of US 89, which resulted in extensive detours on a roadway that serves as a major route in the northern section of the state. Now, the 44-mile US 89T runs parallel to US 89 from The Gap to LeChee, which helps motorists better follow their original route. Prior to constructing US 89T, drivers going to and from Page had a 115-mile alternate route along US 160 and State Route 98, a huge inconvenience.

ADOT officials say that US 89T is not the solution to repair the original US 89. Instead, ADOT proposed a solution to move the travel lanes away from the active landslide and create a rock structure to stabilize the area, which is estimated to cost about $40 million. ADOT hopes to begin construction on the roadway by mid-2014, pending environmental and right-of-way approvals.

A video of the landslide damage is available here. To learn more about US 89 and US 89T, visit the ADOT website.

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