Dalton Highway washout traps tractor-trailer

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A culvert collapsed at Mile 5 of the Dalton Highway Thursday evening, trapping an 18-wheeler and closing the road, the Department of Transportation said.

At least 70 feet of road was washed out, probably more, said a traveler who made it through just before the washout.

Ralph Swarthout, northern regional director for the DOT, said Lost Creek had washed out before and that work on the culvert would start at 6 a.m. Friday. He wasn't sure how long it would take to fix. The closest DOT station is in Livengood.

Russ Bonar, who watched as the truck was swallowed by the creek, said the water reached the stuck 18-wheeler's windows. Bonar, an engineer, was traveling back to Fairbanks from Finger Mountain.

The creek was already overflowing when he crossed in his four-wheel-drive pickup.

After crossing, he stopped so he could watch the ''inevitable'' washout. It came 40 minutes later when a Carlile Enterprises Inc. refrigerated truck tried to cross.

The truck was sucked into the muck as the road eroded beneath it, Bonar said. Then the truck was washed downstream.

The trucker, who has not been identified, was not hurt, Bonar said.

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