One lane of the Sterling Highway through Cooper Landing reopened Monday at 1 p.m. after a landslide caused by heavy rains wiped out a section of the highway between Mileposts 49 and 51.
Shannon McCarthy, media liaison with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said Monday that the landslide, which took place at about 7 a.m. on Halloween, was caused due to heavy rains and that the slide area was still moving Monday afternoon because of ongoing rain. The landslide — which took place on a section of road between the Cooper Landing Museum Complex and the Cooper Creek Campground — covered at least 100 feet about was about 3 feet deep of mud and dirt with trees mixed in and on top, McCarthy said.
McCarthy said spotters are working to ensure operators are able to work safely.
According to Alaska’s 511, the single lane will be open during even hours and closed during odd hours. During odd hours, crews will work to reinstall the guardrail and remove the remaining debris. The work, according to 511, is expected to last for several days and a plan is still being developed for nighttime work and closures.
Images of the landslide shared by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities on Sunday show mud and trees covering both lanes of the highway. Clearing of the highway did not begin until DOT&PF maintenance was able to respond and pre-stage equipment at around 10:40 a.m.
An update from DOT&PF at around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday said clearing work was difficult due to continued rainfall. Crews were still working to clear the highway at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, when the department reported difficulty moving soil that was heavy and wet.
Alaska DOT&PF is sharing frequent updates about the status of the landslide on the department’s Facebook page.