While the Arizona Department of Transportation is still trying to determine what exactly happened to cause the ground to shift beneath US 89 Wednesday morning (Feb. 20) the agency continues to assess the significant damage to the highway. Geotechnical engineers are currently evaluating the stability of the mountain slope, approximately 25 miles south of Page.
“This area encompasses close to 500 feet of damaged pavement, but we had the opportunity in the plane to circle the area twice and it looks like the settlement could be a lot larger,” said Robert Samour, ADOT senior deputy state engineer of operations. “The area over the guardrail drops off a couple hundred feet; we saw some cracking in the soil down the slope, so I would say that this is probably a 500- to 700-foot section that we’re going to have to take a good look at for settlement.”
US 89 will remain closed for an extended period of time. There is no timetable to reopen the highway, which has over 150 feet of pavement that buckled approximately four to six feet.
In the New York Times article ““The Drone Zone“, Drone aircraft from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico were demoed for the press by targeting (but not firing on) civilian vehicles on the highway.
Holloman sits on almost 60,000 acres of desert badlands, near jagged hills that are frosted with snow for several months of the year — a perfect training ground for pilots who will fly Predators and Reapers over the similarly hostile terrain of Afghanistan. When I visited the base earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.
“Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?” a reporter asked. One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.
Sandia’s design for the four-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.
One necessary requirement for hosting the president was shutting down construction for a day on the Fab 42 site, which didn’t sit well with all of the project’s roughly 3,000 active workers.
Some complained that they would not be paid for the unscheduled day off.
Jones said the one-day hiatus would be handled the same as if a thunderstorm had rolled into town Wednesday. A make-up day will be scheduled, and crews will be paid to work that day, instead, Jones said.
He would not be the only one on whom the day took a toll. Some left in wheelchairs, some walked out on their own, but clearly even a perfect January day can be a bit overwhelming after standing in the sun for hours on end.
Weninger said he sees the president’s visit as a political move by Obama to take credit for the Intel project. “I respect the president and am happy he is coming to Chandler and highlighting Intel and our great business community,” he posted on his political Facebook page. “I’m just saying it’s not true if he insinuates that his policies led to this expansion. It didn’t. When you couple his press release with the visit a day after the State of the Union, it’s hard to come to a different conclusion.”
The plants and animals of the southwestern United States are adapted to fire, but not to the sort of super-sized, super-intense fires now raging in Arizona.
The product of drought and human mismanagement, these so-called megafires may change the southwest’s ecology. Mountainside Ponderosa forests could be erased, possibly forever. Fire may become the latest way in which people are profoundly altering modern landscapes.
The two closest fires to me are still burning. The Las Conchas Fire in the Jemez Mountains near Las Alamos is at 92,735 and is close to being the largest fire in New Mexico. The Pacheco Fire near Santa Fe and the Pecos Wilderness has burned a measly 10,000 acres and is 24% contained.
The Donaldson fire is much more south of me but has burned over 43,000 acres.
Say hello to New Mexico’s newest fire, the Pacheco Canyon Fire In Santa Fe. The fire was visible from my house in Rio Rancho on the day it started but I haven’t been able to see it since Saturday. On Sunday there was too much smoke from the Arizona Wallow fire to see much of anything.
InciWeb says the fire has burned over 3000 acres and describes it as extreme.