Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, July 06

Shorter Hwy. 89 detour in the works
Navajo Route 20 likely to be paved by the end of summer

Floyd Stevens, Coppermine Chapter president, holds a N20 paving feasibility study by Western Pacific during a March 7 meeting. Photo/Rick Abasta

Floyd Stevens, Coppermine Chapter president, holds a N20 paving feasibility study by Western Pacific during a March 7 meeting. Photo/Rick Abasta

PAGE, Ariz. - The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) plans to pave 27 miles of Navajo Route 20 (N20) to make a shorter detour around a section of US 89 damaged Feb. 20 by a landslide.

The current detour route uses Highway 160 Navajo Route 98, adding 40 miles to the trip from Flagstaff to Page.

Officials from the Navajo Division of Transportation (NDOT), ADOT, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Coconino County, and Federal Highway Administration met March 7, to discuss the temporary route.

Steve Boschen, ADOT deputy state engineer, said the detour would be in place for about two years.

"Our objectives are to restore mobility to the area, both short-term and long-term," Boschen said. "Our objective is to restore essential traffic as soon as possible."

The immediate plan is to pave 27-miles of dirt road on the existing alignment of N20 by the end of the summer. In the last few weeks, commercial vehicles have gotten stuck on the clay and sand road.

ADOT will straighten the road and flatten low points as part of the paving process.

"I noticed one that was a compound vertical and horizontal curve and we want to fix that because those are dangerous curves," Boschen said.

ADOT also plans to consider building left turn lanes at N21, N6210, N201 and N6211.

The design team is also considering consolidating roadside stands for self-employed Navajo vendors in the area,

"We know that there's going to be a need for some vendors to use N20 as opposed to U.S. 89," Boschen said.

ADOT will take soil samples along N20 to design a pavement that will last two to three years.

The agency plans to develop a joint powers agreement with NDOT and BIA to cover construction and maintenance of N20 until U.S. 89 construction is completed. They have also requested supporting resolutions from chapters affected by the road closure.

Lola Smith, vice president of Coppermine Chapter, said her chapter supports ADOT's efforts to pave N20.

"Gap-Bodaway is working on their resolution and Coppermine, we already have ours in. LeChee is also working on theirs," Smith said.

ADOT continues to collect geotechnical data at the site of the landslide. An emergency repair contractor graded an access road for repair workers at the site. The contractor will also grade the site once all of the preliminary data collection is complete.

The Federal High way administration has allocated $2 million to the US 89 repair. ADOT estimates it will take $35 million to completely repair the roadway.

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