A new temporary detour has opened for drivers in Arizona as the state department of transportation continues major repairs to an area of highway that was devastated by a landslide in February.
The newly paved temporary U.S. 89 opens Thursday, Aug. 29 – with some restrictions. The former Navajo Route 20 from The Gap to LeChee is accessible on U.S. 89, approximately 17 miles north of the US 160 junction at the Tuba City exit.
While the 27-mile paving operations have been completed, Arizona DOT said U.S. 89T remains an active construction zone as crews continue to install right-of-way fencing along the corridor, which has a large amount of livestock.
Until fencing is complete, U.S. 89T will be open during daylight hours only and with a 25 mph speed limit. When construction is complete, the speed limit will be raised and nighttime restrictions will be lifted.
A Feb. 20 landslide on the mountain slope of Echo Cliffs gouged a 150-foot-long crack into the highway about 25 miles south of Page. The state department of transportation is pursuing a $40 million plan to prevent future landslides.
The agency already received $35 million in federal aid to pave the temporary detour and establish it as a shorter detour route for motorists until repairs are complete on U.S. 89.
The other existing detour established for drivers is using U.S. 160 (Tuba City exit) and State Route 98, which is approximately 115 miles long and 45 miles longer than the direct U.S. 89 route. Drivers also have the option to take U.S. 89A north to Marble Canyon toward Fredonia to reconnect to U.S. 89 in Kanab, Utah.
Immediately after the U.S. 89 landslide, ADOT set an alternate route along U.S. 160 and State Route 98, but the 115-mile-long route created a heavy burden for drivers because it was 45 miles longer than the direct route. With the restricted opening of US 89T, however, the U.S. 160-to-SR 98 detour route may still be a faster option for drivers.
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