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US-89 between Thistle and Birdseye opened earlier than expected

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UPDATE: Utah Department of Transportation indicated the road will be closed until at least Monday at 6 a.m.

BIRDSEYE, Utah (ABC4 News) – US-89 is closed in southeastern Utah County due to flooding Friday evening.

Utah Department of Transportation said the roadway is closed in both directions due to debris and flooding one mile north of Birdseye.

MUD, DEBRIS COVER US-89 IN UTAH COUNTY

Heavy equipment plowed through underwater debris with dozens of vehicles stranded along the highway.

“The mud and rock and debris flow was 2 feet thick over the roadway,” said Sgt. Nick Street with Utah Highway Patrol.

The roadway is surrounded by burn scar from last year’s Pole Creek fire.

“With that, of course, that debris is more easily picked up, mudflows off the mountainside a little easier, and this is the result,” said Sgt. Street.

Troopers said some drivers fled their vehicle to get to higher ground.

“It sounds like there were a few people that had to sprint to safety – and fortunately they were able to,” said Sgt. Street.

US-89 TO BE CLOSED FOR ‘UNDETERMINED’ AMOUNT OF TIME

Highway 89 between mile markers 6 and 11 will be closed indefinitely until crews can assess the situation.

Flash flooding and mudslides caused water, mud and other debris to cover the highway.

Three different tractors and plows are being used to clear the debris, so the Utah Department of Transportation can determine how much damage has been done to the roadway.

This amount of water can erode the shoulders of the road, so the pavement and substructure underneath can become unstable which creates unsafe conditions for drivers.

Utah Department of Transportation says this same area flooded back in 1983 but the damage wasn’t anything of this magnitude.

“This hasn’t happened to this level in several years, so this is a big event for us in trying to clean things up and get the roadway reopen,” said Geoff Dupaix, UDOT Region 3 Communication Manager.

If the weather cooperates, UDOT hopes to get everything cleared up in these overnight hours.

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