A large landslide on Prince of Wales Island has blocked the South Thorne Bay/Kasaan Road at about mile 3.
Connie Olsen was headed into Thorne Bay from Kasaan on Wednesday morning, but wasn’t able to get through.
“The whole hillside came down across the road,” she said. “I don’t know how extensive it is, but I was told you could see it from the port in Thorne Bay.”
Dana Allison is the finance director for the City of Thorne Bay. She said the slide happened at about 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
“Fortunately, it happened in a part of the road where there are no residences or structures or vehicles,” she said. “So, nobody was hurt. Nothing was torn down. The road is completely covered. It’s very big and at this particular moment, it is still unstable.”
Allison said city officials in Thorne Bay and Kasaan have been in contact with the Alaska Department of Transportation about clearing the road, but as of Wednesday afternoon had no information about when that work might begin.
She said the slide likely was triggered by heavy rain over the weekend and into the New Year’s holiday.
Olsen cautions area residents who are coming back from Ketchikan on the Inter-Island Ferry Authority to consider other plans because they might not be able to drive home. At least, not on that main road.
She said there is another route on old logging roads.
“I was told you can go around Lake Ellen,” she said. “There’s a lot of roads back there, but you can go all the way around to a logging road, and you can get through on two-wheel drive, I was told. I don’t know if I’d do it. But you can come around to Nine Mile on Kasaan and come around that way, but it’s pretty iffy.”
Allison confirmed that the logging road appears to be passable for the moment.
“I do not personally know the condition of the road, but people have driven it today, so there have been people who have gotten in and out using that alternate route,” she said.
Allison said South Thorne Bay has a big harbor, which also provides boat access.
At the time of this report, a state DOT spokesperson had not returned messages seeking comment.
This report has been edited to clarify the area affected.