DOT Crews Help Reduce Big Delta Flooding with Reinforcement Work on Dike, Channel

Jul 29, 2020

The flooding that closed about a mile of Spengler Road near Big Delta earlier this month has begun to recede. And a state Transportation Department spokesperson says repair work on a side road that had washed-out is helping to deflect the rain-swollen Delta River’s floodwaters.

“That road is sort of acting like a dike, right now,” Caitlin Fry said Tuesday. “That has been successful at reducing the amount of water on Spengler Road.”

Two bulldozers, left of center, stabilize the banks of a channel where the Delta River has overflowed from its riverbed, left, and flooded a stretch of Spengler Road near Big Delta, about five miles north of Delta Junction. The Tanana River bridge and Trans-Alaska Pipeline bridge over the Tanana is visible in upper left.
Credit Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

Frye says Transportation Department crews worked over the weekend to repair the side road and to build a second road nearby to improve access to a gravel pit. And they’ve also dug a trench nearby to channel floodwaters back into the riverbed.

Frye says those structures and a slacking-off of rainfall in the area have helped reduce the level of water flowing over Spengler Road by about nine inches –half as deep as it was a week ago.

“It does appear that the work that we’re doing there is making a difference,” she said, “since the water levels have dropped pretty dramatically since we started this work.”

The Delta River is running high because of meltoff from glaciers and last winter’s heavy snowfall, along with runoff from this summer’s rains.

The river jumped its banks earlier this month and cut a new channel that flooded Spengler Road and swamped at least two homes and cut off access for several others in the area about fives north of Delta Junction.

Frye says the work done so far is intended mainly to solve the immediate flooding problem.

“We recognize that the work that we’re doing right now is a temporary solution, and a temporary response to flooding there right now,” she said. “We also know this area is prone to flooding. We’ve seen it before and we know we’ll see it again.”

Once the flooding subsides, DOT will repair damage to Spengler Road, the local name for a stretch of the Old Richardson Highway. Meanwhile, Frye says the agency is working on a longer-term solution to the area’s flooding problem. She says department staff are developing plans for more work in the area that may include bigger projects.