Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly met Sunday with leaders from several affected communities to discuss the impacts of the Highway 89 closure.
The gist was that the highway will be closed for eight months and Navajo Route 20 will be improved for local traffic, possibly tapping emergency funds to complete its paving.
According to information released by the Navajo Division of Transportation Tuesday, Shelly said repairs were being conducted on a 150-foot stretch of highway that collapsed about 25 miles south of Page.
He directed NDOT to work with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to start maintaining Navajo Route 20, which is a 28-mile dirt road from Bodaway Gap to LeChee near Page.
The purpose: to assist Navajo Nation residents affected by the closure -- not general through traffic, which is too heavy for the small road to handle. An alternate route to Page on paved roads through Tuba City, Shonto and Kaibeto -- an additional 50 miles -- has been established for regular Highway 89 traffic affected by the closure.
In declaring the collapse of the highway an emergency -- affecting residents in Bodaway, Coppermine, LeChee, Cameron, Tuba City and Coal Mine -- Navajo Nation officials said they could possibly receive funds to finish paving N20.
In the near future, grading activities on N20 are being scheduled two times a month for the next six to eight months.