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Crew hauls out 14000-pound, mud-filled sedan beneath Fairbanks ice bridge

Crew hauls out 14000-pound, mud-filled sedan beneath Fairbanks ice bridge

Crew hauls out 14000-pound, mud-filled sedan beneath Fairbanks ice bridge

FAIRBANKS — A crew of divers, tow truck operators and state workers hauled a muck-logged Dodge Stratus out of the Chena River on Friday morning at the “ice bridge” outside Pike’s Waterfront Lodge.

Vehicles frequently fall through the Chena River ice at the Pike’s boat launch, which some drivers use as a winter shortcut to reach the Chena Small Tracts neighborhood. The river is not reinforced here like true ice roads on rivers in rural Alaska and is often thinner than the river ice in downtown Fairbanks because of warm water released into the river from the Chena Power Plant. 

Test the Waters Dive Shop Mitch Osborne estimated he’s helped recover more than 50 vehicles from this location, including cars, trucks, snowmachines and trailers. He said he believes the Dodge Stratus they hauled out on Friday had been in the river for a few years, although it’s not the vehicle he initially thought it was because the sunroof was intact. He’d been expecting a vehicle that’s been hit many times by boat propellers. He suspects other submerged vehicles remain under the ice bridge.  

Local resident Richard Possenti brought the submerged Dodge Stratus to the attention of the state. He volunteered his time and his boat to help the cleanup effort, according to a description written by Nikki Potter and Clif Enochs with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. 

A Dodge Stratus typically weighs 3,245 pounds, but this mud-logged one weighed 14,580 pounds, according to Potter and Enochs. A crew from Ron’s Towing hauled the car to the landfill, costing the state $750.

A sheen from fuel and other contaminants leaking from the car was seen during the removal, and an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation crew used a boom to contain it. 

The four-member Test the Waters Public Safety Dive Team assisted the cleanup as a training exercise. 

Contact Outdoors Editor Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors

Published at Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:08:08 +0000

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