UPDATED: 5:30 p.m.
According to the Haines Police Department a few vehicles have been let through the slide where it is cleared, but the road has not yet officially opened. HPD says that DOT will clear the road until dark and if it’s still not safe, the road will be closed overnight. Please use caution and don’t travel on the Haines Highway tonight unless absolutely necessary. (Even then you might not get through.) HPD also says that the slide is filling in as fast as they can clear it. Be safe!
The Haines Highway is blocked by mudslides this afternoon after a couple days of heavy rainfall. According to Highway residents there are four slides between 18 and 21-mile that have made the road impassable.
The Haines Police Department said that the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is out there attempting to clear the slide but they don’t know when the road might be passable.
Captain Michael Duxbury with the Alaska State Troopers in Ketchikan said the slide is about six feet deep at 19-mile. He said no damage or injuries has been reported, and that they don’t know the extent of damage to the road. Duxbury said the road is expected to be cleared no earlier than 6 p.m.
He said that crews are using extreme caution as areas are still sliding and that people should try to steer clear.
According to Haines School principal Rene Martin, the protocol is that the highway bus will run and if they have to turn back, students will wait at the school until the road is clear or they get directives from parents.
DOT spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow said they are currently using front end loaders and excavators to move the mud and debris. He said that he has also heard there are several slides, though he could only confirm on at 19-mile.
“We really do have to let it finish. The hillside keeps moving into the roadway. It has to work its course and then move the debris as it comes down.”
Haines resident Kaitlin Combs was driving out the highway with a friend to go grouse hunting when she came across a slide covering the highway at 18-mile.
“The way it was moving, it was coming closer and closer so I think it just happened right before we got there,” Combs said.
She said it looked like they were about a foot deep, but mud, rocks and debris were moving quickly down the mountainside to the road. Combs also said that there were rocks on road around 8-mile.
According to the National Weather Service, the rain is expected to continue through the weekend. For updates go to 511Alaska.gov. DOT is updating the page to let residents know when the road will be drivable.