A 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Friday caused widespread damage to roads, leaving sinkholes and buckled pavement, in the Anchorage area, especially on the scenic Glenn Highway.
The quake was centered about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Anchorage (which has a population of about 300,000), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A 5.7 aftershock occurred within minutes, followed by about 550 aftershocks in the 24 hours after the Friday temblor.
The Alaska Department of Transportation counted about 50 sites with damage, including eight that are considered major. Most of the damage was done to highways north of Anchorage. Glenn Highway, a scenic route that runs northeast out of the city past mountains and glaciers, bore the brunt of the damage.
While Glenn and Seward Highways in town reopened early Friday afternoon, Municipal Manager Bill Falsey said, “Even though we are making very significant progress on the highway travel, it would still behoove all of us to see if we can keep the volumes down.”
Walker says it will take more than a week or two to repair roads damaged by the earthquake.
In a statement, the Alaska Travel Industry Association said, “Travelers in Anchorage should take precautions as aftershocks continue, and those with upcoming travel plans may be impacted by numerous closures and should monitor updates based on their itinerary.”
Flights at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage were suspended for several hours after the quake knocked out telephones and forced the evacuation of the control tower. The airport resumed flights by Friday evening and is operating in a limited capacity.
The Alaska Railroad trains are expected to resume Monday night.
Despite the strong quake, buildings there withstood the rumbling and did not collapse, thanks to strict building codes that were put in place after the devastating 1964 Alaska earthquake — the most powerful on record in the U.S.