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State Route 89A Between Sedona and Flagstaff Keeps Flooding Thanks to Slide Fire

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Although the fire is no more, the 21,000-acre Slide Fire is still affecting the area between Sedona and Flagstaff.

State Route 89A -- undoubtedly one of the state's best highways as far as scenery and driving excitement are concerned -- is now having problems with floods.

See also:
-Photos: Aftermath of the Slide Fire Near Sedona

In fact, the stretch of highway has been closed three times in the last week due to flooding issues caused by the fire, according to a bulletin released by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

While ADOT has no plans to close SR 89A for the entirety of the monsoon season, there is the possibility that the highway could be closed periodically due to flash floods and other risks, particularly during heavy rains.

In an effort to minimize the impact of post-Slide Fire risks, ADOT has initiated several flood-damage mitigation measures recently, including staging heavy equipment, including road graders, in the Oak Creek Canyon area and positioning staff in the canyon during adverse weather conditions.

Before, during and after the most recent monsoon storms during the Fourth of July weekend, ADOT crews have been clearing accumulated debris from drainage culverts and roadside ditches. Additional post-fire maintenance includes repairing roadway embankments along burned out slopes within ADOT's right of way in an effort to restore the vegetation.

Maintenance crews have also replaced burnt erosion control features such as logs, rock dams and "wattles," which are straw-filled canvas tubes that help keep the soil and debris off highways, in preparation for potential floods.

Recall that this fire was believed to have been human-caused, although authorities have been unable to identify the human responsible. Authorities had put out a call for witnesses who may have seen any suspicious people around Slide Rock State Park.

In addition to the $10 million in firefighting costs, the size of the fire also required the response of a team sent out to evaluate these increased flood risks caused by wildfires, thus adding more costs.

ADOT and other agencies also handed out thousands of pamphlets to drivers during the Independence Day weekend, warning them about potentially hazardous driving conditions on SR 89A, and as quoted in the bulletin above, ADOT isn't planning on a long-term closure of the highway, but it could flood at any time.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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