Highway 87 will remain closed until further notice despite rumors to the contrary and ADOT's Web site announcing that it might reopen by June 1, said Arizona Department of Transportation officials Wednesday morning.
ADOT Public Information officer Bill Williams said the affected part of the highway in the Slate Creek area near milepost marker 224 is still unsafe and crews are still working to stabilize the hillside that slipped, causing the landslide on Friday, March 21.
"When and if we open Highway 87 it will be two lanes, one north and one southbound, traveling side by side in the current northbound lane at slow speeds while we finish addressing the buckled pavement in the southbound lane," said Williams.
"Motorist safety is our priority. That's why we are excavating hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of earth off that slope which caused Friday's landslide," he added.
Williams said ADOT has designated the highway an emergency project and has a construction contractor and a team of engineering experts and geotechnical specialists onsite to aid in assessing steps ADOT is taking to stabilize the slope that caused the landslide.
"This is a fluid situation because as the earthwork has progressed underground voids not previously visible have been discovered," Williams said.
ADOT has also installed monitoring devices to measure vertical and lateral movement of the pavement and is creating a digital terrain model to determine how much dirt needs to be taken away.
Williams said because of the uncertainty of further slippage, crews are unable to work around the clock.
Safety concerns for the ADOT repair crews demand they stop at night and restart when there is sufficient light the next morning.
ADOT is taking further steps to make sure the slope is stable before they are willing to speculate when or if the section of highway will reopen.
"ADOT will be installing devices underground, called slope monitoring tubes, to calculate earth movement laterally and vertically after more progress is made with the heavy construction equipment to remove the unstable soil," said Williams.
He said motorists should continue using Highways 60 and 188 through Globe, or take I-17 to Highway 260 through Camp Verde to get to Payson.
"ADOT is updating the media and local officials as new information is available. Our 511 travel information system is being updated as new information is available," said Williams.