One lane of traffic open near Cooper Landing after Sterling Highway landslide

The landslide is the fourth environmental incident to strike the Kenai Peninsula this week

Water and debris cover the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing on Thursday, May 12, 2022 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)

Water and debris cover the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing on Thursday, May 12, 2022 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)

One-lane traffic has reopened at Mile 57 of the Sterling Highway after a creek slide temporarily cut off traffic early Thursday morning.

Cooper Landing Emergency Services reported an emergency road closure around 5:30 a.m. Thursday in response to “water and debris” across the highway.

As of 8:05 a.m., the highway near Mile 57 had reopened to one lane of traffic with a pilot car. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management said in a Thursday update that the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities had cleared the highway of water and debris.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities reported Thursday that Fuller Creek “decided to let loose” and sent water and debris flowing downhill to the Sterling Highway. The water is being rerouted, the department said.

The borough initially reported at around 2:41 a.m. Thursday that there was a 500-yard stretch of water across the highway between 1 and 2 inches deep. Motorists are asked to be extra cautious on the roadway Thursday as Cooper Landing community members are also participating in the area’s annual highway cleanup.

The creek slide is the latest environmental incident to strike the Kenai Peninsula this week: a massive landslide in Seward on May 7 continues to block Lowell Point Road, a wildfire broke out near Sportsman’s Landing on May 8 and a separate wildfire broke out on May 10 near Wildman’s.

Both wildfires and Thursday’s landslide occurred in the area adjacent to the Cooper Landing Bypass Project, for which seasonal construction resumed last month. That project, when completed, will add 10 miles of road starting at about Mile 46.5 off the Sterling Highway and is meant to reduce congestion through Cooper Landing.

Updates about Thursday’s Cooper Landing landslide, as well as both fires and the Seward landslide, are being shared by the Kenai Peninsula Borough via its KPB Alerts program.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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