Flood damage along Richardson Highway disrupts trucking, limits internet and cell service

“There will be no travel between milepost 218 and 234 for the public through the weekend,” she said.

Tessen says the state is detouring traffic around the closure onto the Alaska Highway and the Tok Cutoff. “It’s going to add an hour and a half to your drive, but at least you can get from Point A to Point B,” she added.

Alaska Trucking Association Executive Director Joe Michel says that means it’s likely products being brought up to the Rich may be arriving late for the next several days.

For example, he said, “There is quite a bit of fuel that comes out of Valdez that is heading up the Richardson up to Fairbanks.”

The washout at Bear Creek also damaged a fiber-optic cable that runs along the Richardson. throttling internet and cellphone service for customers throughout the eastern interior. Alaska Communications spokesperson Heather Marron said the company’s customers are being affected, because it uses some of a Valdez-based telecom’s cable bandwidth.

“Copper Valley Telecom’s infrastructure, along with other telecom providers, has been impacted by flooding,” she said, reading from a prepared statement. “Alaska Communications purchases capacity on this fiber, so therefore some of our customer services are impacted.”

Delta Junction-based Vertical Broadband is one of those telecoms affected by the damaged cable. Company officials did not return a call Tuesday, but a recorded message says Vertical Broadband has had to re-route its service through a different cable.

“There’s now one fiber path for all of Delta Junction to connect to the Internet. This is through Fairbanks. This means that most of Fairbanks now has one fiber path to the Internet, as well,” the message stated.

Alaska Communications said in a written statement that the damage and its ripple effects have significantly reduced the company’s capabilities. The statement says the problem will slow internet service for all customers of telecoms that used the now-damaged cable. And it says it doesn’t have an estimate on when full service will be restored.

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