PAGE, Ariz. - The project to rebuild U.S. 89 after an earthquake buckled a 150-foot section of the road about 25 miles south of Page last year remains on the fast track.
"The current plans to design the U.S. 89 project are about 60 percent complete," said Dustin Krugel, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). "Once a construction contractor is brought on board with the project, we expect to be 95 percent completed with the design of the eventual repair this spring."
While the plans for the project are complete, environmental issues are being addressed at the same time so environmental and design experts will work hand-in-hand during the development stages.
ADOT has set an internal deadline to finalize environmental clearances in early 2014.
"This is an important step," Krugel said. "Without environmental clearance, ADOT is unable to receive federal funds to complete the project."
ADOT is working with the Navajo Nation to expedite the clearance and approval process. The agency acknowledged that the lack of a direct route between the Bitter Springs and Page communities is a hardship for many people.
Once the environmental clearance is complete, the right-of-way needs of the project will be determined. An agreement between the Federal Highway Administration, the Navajo Nation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs must be reached to make a permanent easement.
ADOT's goal is to start construction on U.S. 89 by mid-2014 if there are no environmental, utility or right-of-way clearance hurdles. The construction of the projected $25 million repair is expected to take as long as 12 months to complete.