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Seward Highway Reopens After Downed Power Line Cleared

By Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer, cklint@ktuu.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:50:32 PM AKST
Updated On: Nov 19 2013 10:16:01 AM AKST
Seward Highway Reopens After Downed Power Line Cleared
ANCHORAGE -

The Seward Highway has reopened near Girdwood Tuesday morning after being closed for hours by a downed power line, which have also canceled several Anchorage School District bus routes for the day.

The Anchorage Fire Deparment tweeted that the Seward was open as of shortly before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, following a closure which lasted for more than five hours.

Earlier Tuesday, ASD spokesperson Heidi Embley said the closure has cut off all school bus service to, from and within Girdwood. District officials confirmed after the highway's reopening that Girdwood bus service will remain canceled for the day.

"The school day will continue as scheduled for all students," Embley wrote in a Tuesday statement. "If students are unable to attend school due to the road closure, parents are asked to call the school office to receive an excused absence."

According to AST spokesperson Beth Ipsen, dispatchers were first informed of the line just after 4 a.m., when a Ford F-350 pickup truck drove across it at Mile 91, about a mile north of Girdwood. The vehicle received minor damage, but the driver was unharmed.

Ipsen says the pickup truck wasn't the only vehicle to encounter the downed line, complicating repair work.

"A semi-truck came upon the downed line later and got its mirror tangled in the power line at about 4:45 a.m.," Ipsen wrote in an update on the highway's reopening. "The semi and driver had to remain in place until a crew from Chugach Electric freed the truck at approximately 7:45 a.m. This truck then turned around and headed back to Anchorage."

Among the vehicles delayed by the closure were several headed for Whittier.

“There are vehicles lined up waiting on the north side of the downed power lines. The group consists mostly of trucks hauling goods and tankers and some people heading to Whittier,” Ipsen wrote in a 6:30 a.m. update. “The Girdwood Fire Department has blocked traffic off at the Tesoro gas station, which is about a mile south of the power lines.”

Chugach Electric spokesperson Phil Steyer says a broken pole caused one of three cables in a three-phase 115-kilovolt transmission line fell across the highway.

"Corrosion apparently weakened a pair of anchor rods supporting guy wires, causing the rods  to break," Steyer wrote in an update on the incident's cause. "The loss of the guy wires caused the wooden pole holding the wire to break, allowing the conductor to sag near the ground."

Steyer says the line has been de-energized and is being supported by a boom truck above the highway, while contractors work to replace the pole and anchors.

The downed line briefly knocked out power to more than 2,000 Cooper Landing customers for up to 15 minutes. Steyer says Chugach customers in Indian are receiving power from the north, while customers as far north as Girdwood are being powered by generation resources on the Kenai Peninsula.

This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.