State highway maintenance workers cleared Mitkof Highway south of Petersburg. A slide of mud and trees blocked the road early Saturday morning as heavy rains brought down part of that hillside.
A motorist reported the slide to the Petersburg Police Department. It’s near 18 mile of Mitkof Highway about a mile south of the Crystal Lake Hatchery.
Barry Youngberg, highway foreman for the Alaska Department of Transportation in Petersburg, was notified around 2:30 Saturday morning.
“So I was actually out of town, I was in Juneau, so I called one of the guys and they got on site at about 4:30 with loader,” Youngberg said. “And once they got through there we actually had another loader out on Three Lakes (Loop Road) there. So they brought that in and we had the road back open about 8:30 that morning.”
Youngberg said mud and debris from the slide has filled ditches on both sides of the state roadway.
“Which is unfortunate because we just got done ditching the uphill side,” he said. “There’s numerous culverts that are blocked. Fortunately the big culvert that is on the town side of the slide is still flowing water. It’s blocked with debris but it’s still flowing. We’re not flooding the road any more but there’s quite a bit of water. Obviously tonight they’re calling for quite a bit of rain. And we did walk the hill side and there’s a log jam up above with quite a bit of mud behind that so, hopefully the log jam will hold that from coming down on the road and starting from scratch.”
He said the DOT will contract with a private company to clean up the mud and trees that remain.
The National Weather Service reported Sunday that Petersburg had over two and third inches of rain in over a three-day period. More heavy rains are possible for tonight and high winds are forecast today. Those conditions could lead to more landslides.
Trees, rocks and mud blocked Mitkof Highway in 2011 and 2009 further north of this slide and closer to Petersburg. That area also had slide damage in 1986 and 1988.