FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Department of Transportation says it could be more than two years before motorists can again travel a now-closed section of northern Arizona highway between Flagstaff and Page.
The department says it plans to rebuild the highway atop a huge new rock retaining wall at the base of a Feb. 20 landslide where the ground slipped out from under U.S. 89.
"The recommendation is to move the road 60 feet, and take the rock from the cut and put it at the base of the hill to form a rock buttress to lock in the recent slide," said Steve Boschen, ADOT deputy state engineer of design. "The right-of-way and environmental process will be our biggest challenge, but we will streamline that as much as possible so we can benefit the traveling public and especially the Bitter Springs and Marble Canyon communities."
A price tag hasn't been established for the project, but the Arizona Daily Sun reports that pre-construction processes will take 12 to 18 months and that construction would take 6 to 18 months.
The Sun says it would take longer to build a whole new road around the collapse.
A detour now in use adds 50 miles to the trip. A shorter detour is being prepared.
The current detour established for drivers is using US 160 (Tuba City exit) and State Route 98, which is approximately 115 miles long and 45 miles longer than the direct US 89 route. Drivers also have the option to take US 89A north to Marble Canyon toward Fredonia to reconnect to US 89 in Kanab, Utah.
US 89 has been closed north of Bitter Springs and south of Page since Feb. 20 due to a landslide that buckled pavement on the mountain slope in the Echo Cliffs.
For up-to-date information about US 89 visit azdot.gov/us89.