The Arizona Department of Transportation could start repaving the two landslide-damaged southbound lanes of Highway 87 in as little as two weeks and fully reopen the road by the projected May 22 date.
ADOT has secured $2.8 million in emergency funds to repair the highway, said ADOT Public Information Officer Bill Williams, but the bill should come in at just over $2 million.
"Our contractor has been working aggressively, sometimes in double shifts and at night, to remove the earth from the slope which caused the landslide," said Williams.
"Removing the earth and placing it in two U.S. Forest Service approved areas allowed ADOT to shore up the slope and protect Highway 87," he said.
Crews have been working to remove 180,000 cubic yards of earth from the southbound side of the highway and building a new retaining wall, Williams said.
"The retaining wall is called a drilled shaft retaining wall that will go deep into the ground between the slope and the roadway, to help prevent future landslides," he said.
Most of the earth has been removed, he added.
Williams said crews have been working on both sides of the highway to ensure motorist safety when it is reopened.
"Crews are working diligently to re-open two more lanes and restore SR 87 to its four-lane capacity as soon as possible," he said.
Williams said the second phase of ADOT's repair would include repaving the two southbound lanes that buckled during the landslide, forcing a six-day closure of the highway.
On March 27, ADOT reopened the highway, with a 12-foot width restriction, and single lanes in each direction.
Williams said crews completed a lot of work last week when ADOT closed Highway 87 on April 22 and 23 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.
While reopening all four lanes on Highway 87 could spell relief for summer tourism in the Rim Country, Williams said work in the area would continue.
"Even after ADOT reopens the other two lanes, motorists will see crews working into the fall on other nearby slopes to control erosion and improve drainage," said Williams.