Landslide path in Sitka remains unstable, officials say

    SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A Labor Day landslide near Halibut Point Road in Sitka is still unstable, the Alaska Department of Transportation said.

    Department spokeswoman Aurah Landau said debris on the slope has continued to slough off, either collecting on a hillside bench or sliding into the ditch, The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported ( ) Thursday. The road just last week had to be closed for about 10 minutes after debris blocked the roadway.

    "It's a very steep slope and there's enough material and water that it continues to ravel," Landau said, likening the sliding to glacial calving.

    Landau estimates the slope is steeper than 45 degrees, and officials believe it might not become stable until it lessens to a 38 to 45 degree angle.

    "We can't predict what's going to happen," Landau said. "It could stabilize slowly or come down quickly. ... All we can look at are site conditions right now."

    The soil in the slide area remains saturated after warmer temperatures during the past week, she said. And at this point, the department cannot predict the threat homeowners in the area face.

    "The next steps are we're going to keep an eye on what's happening in the right of way and keep clearing it," she said. "We'll make sure the culverts are open and evaluate further work in the right of way."

    The state is working on a communitywide map for the potential risk for landslides in Sitka, which might impact zoning in the future, Sitka Planning Director Michael Scarcelli said.


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