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Slope damage near US 89 closure is unsafe for pedestrians

US 160 and State Route 98, US 89A remain designated detour routes
February 26, 2013

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation is urging curious onlookers to avoid traveling near the damaged mountain slope on US 89, approximately 25 miles south of Page, because it could be dangerous.

The Echo Cliffs region is a known hiking area, but 30-foot chasms have been spotted near the damaged pavement and the area should be avoided.

ADOT has geotechnical engineers at the site, who are assessing the stability of the ground after a landslide on Feb. 20 forced the closure of US 89 between the US 89A junction near Bitter Springs and the State Route 98 junction near Page (mileposts 523-546).

After receiving environmental clearance on Monday, ADOT will soon begin drilling the shafts to deploy equipment that will measure slope movement at a specific location. Until it has been determined that the area is stable, ADOT cannot move forward with a design project to repair the highway.

Motorists, including all commercial truck traffic, are strongly advised to use one of the recommended alternate routes, which include traveling east on US 160 to SR 98 and northwest on SR 98 for 65 miles to Page. The detour adds an additional 45 miles over the direct route. Non-local traffic and trucks should not use Navajo Route 20; trucks are getting stuck on this mostly dirt road, which is not an appropriate substitute route for highway traffic.

Another option for drivers is to take northbound US 89A through Marble Canyon toward Fredonia to reconnect with US 89 in Kanab, Utah. US 89A remains open and is not affected by the US 89 closure near Echo Cliffs.

“Drivers really need to stick with one of the designated detour routes,” said Jennifer Toth, ADOT deputy director for transportation. “This is a popular area for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers, but until our geological experts can say with 100 percent certainty that last week’s shifting in the ground has stopped, motorists and pedestrians need to stay clear of the area.”

US 89 will remain closed for the immediate future. There is no timetable to reopen the highway, which has approximately 500 feet of damage, including 150 feet of pavement that buckled four-to-six feet due to a landslide and failure of the slope.

For up-to-date information on the US 89 closure, please visit www.azdot.gov/us89.