Thursday, March 21, 2013

Work continues on US 89 landslide site

Yesterday marked one month since a landslide ripped through a segment of US 89 and buckled more than 150 feet of the pavement…

That geological event not only triggered an immediate closure of a 23-mile stretch of the highway, it also brought out a whole team of engineers and geotechnical experts to the scene.

And, while there still is no timeline for restoring the route, we can assure you that crews are working diligently at the site, inspecting the damage and examining the causes behind the slope failure – all of which you can see in the video above.

What’s been happening at the site?
Besides the geotechnical stuff – which we’ll get to in a minute – some of the work since Feb. 20 has included getting word out to drivers.

Flagstaff District Project Supervisor Rick Schilke explains that temporary traffic control was in place at first, but since then, crews have put in semi-permanent signs that mark the detours.

“About every 10 miles there’s another sign that says ‘keep going,’” Schilke said.

Earlier this month, the team also had to prepare for a storm that was forecasted to bring rain and snow to the region. You can see in the video that precautions included putting down a thick plastic liner to protect the site from water infiltration.

“We have crevices in the earth over 30 feet deep and the desire is to not have moisture in those areas because when the moisture gets into the earth, it gives it a higher chance of sliding even further,” says Flagstaff District Engineer Audra Merrick.

Now, onto the geotechnical side of things…

Core drills are being used so engineers can detect any shears that are developed underground and get a better idea of what some of the future options are.

And, we can’t forget the inclinometers – faithful ADOT Blog readers will already know about these. You can see in the video that these instruments are being used at the site so engineers can see what’s happening deep below the road’s surface.

“It can give us readings several hundred feet down,” says Kelinfelder Geotechnical Engineer Jed Stoken. “In this case we’re trying to go down about 150 feet. We think that the shears in the bedrock are probably at least 100 to 125 feet. It’s a very deep slide.”

What’s next?
As we said above, no timeline has been established and crews are still working to determine what the best long-term solution might be.

“There was some sort of geological event that occurred, obviously, up here and so we just can’t come up here and replace the road for the sake of replacing it,” Merrick says. “We need to determine what the cause was in order to best use our funds to reestablish the route.”

Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to stay informed about the situation. Visit for the latest news, photos and videos. While you’re there, you can sign up for email updates and download a map of the closure.


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  2. Anand Atre, To get to the north rim of the Grand Canyon from Page you have to go north out of Page on US 89 and head toward Kanab Utah then take 89a south out of Kanab, until you get to AZ 67 and on into the park.

    You can also take the current detour AZ 98 to US 160 and head back to US 89 then head back north on US 89 until you get to jct of US 89 and US 89A which is Bitter Springs where US 89 is closed, then got to the jct of US 89A and AZ 67 and take AZ 67 into the park.

    Though Navajo 20 would be shorter it will also more likely be slower because around 27 miles are unpaved and from what I've read is washboard and might also be open grazing land which means animals could be on the road at any given point in time.

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    1. Good afternoon, Anand.

      ADOT is not recommending that through traffic use Navajo Route 20. The roadway, especially at night or following inclement weather, is not an acceptable replacement for ADOT’s highways.

      If the roadway is paved as a temporary detour, we will be able to recommend it as an alternative, but for now, in the sake of safety, we urge drivers to use the established detour route (US 160 and SR 98).

      You can visit for the latest information on US 89.

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  4. Is it possible to get to the waterholes slot canyons and horseshoe bend or am I going to have to change my trip? I'm going to be there around June 12-13th and these were two of the stops we were supposed to make.

    1. Good afternoon,

      Sorry for the delayed response...

      Drivers are able to reach communities and destinations surrounding the US 89 road closure. You may want to check with your destination (a quick internet search shows that some information is available on, but it looks like you may need to contact the tribal parks office for more information on the canyons) before you go.

      You can also check our detour map before planning your route. You can find that map – along with more information on the US 89 closure – at

      You might also want to check out our recent video that focuses on the Page and Lake Powell communities.

  5. echo cliffs "landslides" occur along the 120 miles or so stretch of the cliffs all the time. this "testing the rocks" is ridiculous and a complete waste of time. not everyone has the funds or patience to drive through the 3-hour (yes, 3 hours not 45 mins) detour.

    quick solution, remove the big rocks and pave along the damage! hello, some of us live down in bitter springs and work in page. we dislike the "alternative" routes (highway 160 and Navajo route 20) that causes vehicle damage and more gas.

    please quit playing with your toys and reestablish the road back into page for those of us use the road on a daily basis for work.

    PS: quit posting the to all your responses as they aren't helpful.


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