Alaska's earthquake-damaged road repaired, reopened just days later

When a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Alaska last week, a highway ramp that leads to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport looked destroyed beyond repair.

Four days later, quick-moving construction workers rebuilt the ramp and the road reopened between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, Shannon McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said.

The large earthquake struck at 8:29 a.m. last Friday and was followed by a magnitude 5.7 quake. Aftershocks of 4.0 or large were regular occurrences afterward. More than 1,000 aftershocks rattled the region in the days following the quake itself, according to scientists.

The off-ramp that carries traffic from south Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula to the state’s largest airport was identified was one site that had a break in “essential travel” and was among the highest priorities for officials to get fixed. No one was injured when the ramp collapsed.

“We basically called the contracting community, and we split up the sites between multiple contractors and our construction staff,” McCarthy said.

Construction workers rebuilt the ramp that was significantly damaged during a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

Construction workers rebuilt the ramp that was significantly damaged during a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. (AP)

Construction workers were forced to restart their asphalt plants in order to help get the roadway back into shape. The asphalt plants had been shut down for the season in late October.

“As soon as the quake happened, as soon as the contractors felt their asphalt plants were safe, they ran over and started up their asphalt plants,” McCarthy said.

Work on the off-ramp began at sundown Friday and the asphalt was ready to be laid down soon after.

“That's almost unheard of,” McCarthy said.

The Glenn Highway, which is the only roadway leading north from Anchorage, was fully reopened Wednesday. Crews had to fix all six lanes because of massive sinkholes near Mirror Lake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.