Alaska Railroad north of Denali closed

Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska - EDITORS NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect a correction from the Alaska Railroad about the cause of the retaining wall failure.

A section of the Alaska Railroad is shut down north of Denali Park due to the failure of a retaining wall, the railroad said Friday night.

In a news release, Alaska Railroad director of external affairs Tim Sullivan wrote "A retaining wall below Alaska Railroad tracks at ARRC MP 355.2 in Healy Canyon has failed due to a slope failure below the wall causing it to be compromised. The lower slope slipped due to saturated soils from recent heavy rains. Passenger and freight service will be suspended through the area until late Monday, August 19 at the earliest."

The railroad originally said erosion from high water on the Nenana River caused the retaining wall to fail, but late Friday night sent out a correction, stating heavy rains caused the problem.

The railroad said passengers traveling north to or south from Denali Park on the Alaska Railroad or on an Alaska Railroad provided service through Holland America / Princess or Premier Alaska Tours should expect delays. Motor coach service around the affected area will be provided to passengers departing or arriving Fairbanks.

ARRC crews are mobilizing equipment into the area to begin work on the wall. The repairs will include driving pilings and sheet pile to fortify the structure and prevent any further erosion, said Sullivan.