Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Contact: Nancy Singer
U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $35 Million for U.S. Highway 89 Repairs in Northern Arizona
Highway Destroyed by February Landslide
WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that Arizona will receive $35 million in emergency relief for repairs to U.S. Highway 89, which has been closed since its collapse due to a landslide in February.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will use the funds to establish a new detour on Navajo Route 20 (N20), to continue ongoing assessments and emergency repair work, and to evaluate options for permanently restoring US 89.
"The closure of Highway 89 has been a real hardship for the people of Page and the surrounding area," said Secretary LaHood. "The detour built with this funding will make it easier for residents to get to their schools, jobs and homes."
On February 20, a landslide ripped through a section of US 89 along a mountain slope about 25 miles south of Page, buckling more than 150 feet of the roadway and tearing the pavement up in sections. A 23-mile-long stretch of the highway was immediately closed because of the damage.
"This money will make a big difference for families and businesses striving to continue their daily lives and bounce back from this landslide," Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. "We are committed to restoring transportation during this interim time until we find a solution for permanent repairs."
A portion of the $35 million provided today will go toward paving N20, a Navajo Nation tribal road that runs parallel to Highway 89, which will cut back the length of travel by more than 55 miles for commuters using the current detour. Primarily a dirt road now, N20 will be transformed into a two-lane, 44-mile highway with proper signage and markings for travel safety. The new detour will reduce the commute time for school buses traveling from Bitter Springs to Page by approximately one hour each way. ADOT will designate N20 as a temporary state route for its duration as a detour and will relinquish the route to the Navajo Nation once Highway 89 is complete.
The emergency relief funds announced today are in addition to $2 million the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided to Arizona in March to begin assessing the damage and establish access for emergency vehicles. US 89 will remain closed as geotechnical experts and engineers continue to examine the mountain slope and roadbed and evaluate options for permanently restoring the highway.
FHWA's emergency relief program funds the repair or reconstruction of federal-aid roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.
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