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April 24, 2014

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Only road into Valdez reopens after avalanches

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 | 11 p.m.

VALDEZ, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Transportation Department has reopened the only road into the city at the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline, nearly two weeks after avalanches blocked Richardson Highway.

The Anchorage Daily News reports (http://is.gd/nvV4Mr ) that the highway outside Valdez (Val-DEEZ) reopened Wednesday.

A dozen or so avalanches combined to close the road on Jan. 24, including two that completely covered the highway and about 10 that partially covered it.

One major avalanche filled Keystone Canyon, which begins at Mile 12 and is roughly 300 feet wide. Snow piled up on the road 40 to 50 feet high from canyon wall to canyon wall for 1,000 to 1,500 feet.

It also dammed the Lowe River, creating a lake that covered 2,500 feet of highway.

Valdez had remained accessible by air and water.