- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Flood waters have receded enough for repairs on a rugged highway, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said.

The repairs will re-establish a lifeline to Prudhoe Bay and the North Slope, the department said Sunday in a statement announcing that crews can begin work. Mike Coffey, maintenance and operations director, “could barely contain his enthusiasm” as he shared that the flood levels had dropped enough to start repairs immediately, the statement said.

Flooding a little more than a month ago prompted Gov. Bill Walker to issue a disaster declaration.

Water levels vary along the 80-mile closure, but state transportation officials said about 2-feet of water was over the road at some parts. There was also concern the water is eroding the road.

The 414-mile Dalton Highway is a mostly gravel road that starts 84 miles north of Fairbanks. Despite crossing hundreds of miles of Arctic and sub-Arctic tundra and the Brooks Range, the road rarely closes.

Culverts are being installed on the north end of the highway to allow flood waters to flow back into the main channel of the Sag River, the department said. On the south end, crews will continue to excavate, haul and stockpile materials necessary for rebuilding miles of washed out highway.

“Over the next 24-hours activity will ramp up immensely,” Coffey said Sunday. “This is what we’ve prepared for and what we’ve been waiting for.”

The highway remains closed from Mile 335.5 to Mile 413. There’s no estimate on when the road will re-open.

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