The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) today has reopened State Route 87. The highway was closed in both directions Friday after a landslide created unsafe conditions in the Slate Creek area (milepost 224). Drivers will travel through a work zone with one lane in each direction and a reduced speed limit as they pass through the area affected by the landslide.
"Our team has moved quickly since the landslide to make State Route 87 safe for motorists and restore this critical link between Northern Arizona and the Phoenix area," said ADOT Director Victor Mendez.
The decision to reopen State Route 87 was made after thorough inspections, removal of unstable soil and assessments by ADOT engineers who have been at the site of the landslide since it occurred. The northbound lanes have been determined to be safe for drivers, meaning one lane in each direction will use this side of the highway to pass through the Slate Creek area.
Motorists will travel through a two-mile long construction zone with one lane in each direction. The speed limit on State Route 87 will be reduced to 45 miles per hour through the work zone. Motorists must slow down and drive safely through the work zone.
After touring the construction zone with ADOT engineers, Payson Mayor Bob Edwards said, "I witnessed first hand how fast ADOT is working to safely restore this section of highway which is vital for Payson's economy."
The landslide caused sections of the highway's southbound lanes to buckle and shift, creating unsafe driving conditions. In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, ADOT will keep this side of the highway closed for an extended period while construction crews excavate and flatten the slope where the landslide occurred. Crews also will reconstruct the southbound lanes damaged by the landslide.
Driver safety continues to be the first priority for ADOT. As the highway reopens, crews will continue to monitor the roadway and slope for additional movement or other safety concerns. ADOT will monitor pavement and soil movement laterally and vertically through GPS coordinates, 3D laser scanners and underground devices.
ADOT appreciates the patience and understanding of drivers who have been detoured between the Phoenix area and Payson during the last few days. We ask for continued patience in the coming weeks as repairs are made to State Route 87.
Click here to view the Arizona Geological Survey of the Highway 87 landslide.