Flooding hits Interior roads again

Posted: Wednesday, September 03, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Heavy weekend rain again lifted the Chena River over its banks and onto a highway east of Fairbanks.

Department of Transportation officials closed Chena Hot Springs Road at Mile 37.5 on Tuesday afternoon and it remained closed Wednesday morning, said spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy.

Meteorologists predicted the Chena would crest and begin receding Wednesday morning.

Less than an inch of rain fell on Fairbanks International Airport Sunday and Monday but roughly 3 inches fell on parts of the upper Chena River basin over the same period. The National Weather Service also said the Chatanika and Salcha rivers were on the rise Tuesday and that minor flooding was possible below Moose Creek Dam on the Chena.

In late July, record-setting rains pounded the Interior, bloating area rivers and undermining bridge abutments.

Chena Hot Springs Road, a highway about 60 miles long east of Fairbanks, was one of the first areas affected.

McCarthy told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the Transportation Department plans to install three 80-foot-long culverts at Mile 37.5 as a temporary fix to prevent future flooding in what for years has become a recurrent problem.

McCarthy said the culvert project will begin when the river is low enough.

The department hopes to make permanent design improvements to the area in the future.

About 18 inches of river water flowed over the road Tuesday. Access to several river access points was cut off, as was access to a shooting range at Mile 36.4.

Fairbanks saw its wettest July on record but the National Weather Service does not expect a repeat of flooding that following those conditions.

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