Heavy rains damage roads in Alaska ski community
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A weather system dumped heavy rains in parts of south-central Alaska over the past week, damaging roads in the ski community of Girdwood.
Officials in the community, which is part of the Municipality of Anchorage, hope to receive financial help to respond to the damage, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Between Oct. 29 and Wednesday, more than 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain fell at the base of the Alyeska Resort ski area, according to a National Weather Service statement.
About 20 feet (6 meters) of Ruane Road collapsed, leaving Girdwood without access to the water treatment plant or garbage services. There were varying levels of damage to other roads, said Kyle Kelley, the Girdwood area service manager.
Mike Edgington, a co-chair of the Girdwood Board of Supervisors, said while repairs have been made on some roads, the work on Ruane Road will be longer term. A sewer line and a gas line were left exposed when part of that road collapsed.
Kelley said officials planned to install a temporary culvert and to fill in the area and cover it with a recycled asphalt for the winter. Edgington said workers aimed to complete that work by the end of the weekend, weather permitting, Edgington said. But a permanent fix will be needed in spring.
Edgington put initial estimates for temporary repair costs at roughly $400,000 to $450,000 — about 60% of what the town budgets annually for contract work on roads.
Edgington said Girdwood officials hoped a disaster declaration could help with costs.
“In terms of the impact, that’s a big chunk of change for our community,” he said. “Most of it gets reimbursed when the government makes a disaster declaration. But we are kind of dependent on that disaster declaration. Otherwise, it’s gonna be quite a lot of financial pain.”
Corey Allen Young, a spokesperson for Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, said “it was determined that the situation could be stabilized without any declaration.”
Edgington said Girdwood has money saved that could cover repair costs but it would leave them without emergency funds for future needs. Additional information from the municipality about whether any financial help would be provided to Girdwood was not immediately available.
The National Weather Service said an “atmospheric river with a subtropical moisture tap” was pointed at south-central Alaska for five to six days. The event, in some cases, ranked as anywhere from a one-in-25-year-record to a one-in-1,000-year-record event, it said.
At the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center by Portage Lake, more than 27 inches (68 centimeters) of rain fell. The area was the farthest north location in the country to receive consecutive days of more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain, according to the weather service statement.
A landslide closed a section of the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing on Sunday and part of Monday. The road fully reopened Wednesday, after being restricted to one-lane traffic in that area.