Anchorage plowing crews working on high-priority roads, sidewalks

Crews designate which roads, streets take greatest priority as latest winter storm hits Southcentral
Anchorage plowing crews working on high-priority roads
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 9:12 AM AKST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2022 at 4:10 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Municipality of Anchorage issued a plow-out status on Feb. 15, following the Valentine’s Day storm that covered the city with 4.2 inches of snow, according to Alaska’s Weather Source.

Plowing will begin in “priority level one” areas of the municipality, according to the the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities website, and can take up to 12 hours to complete after a storm. This includes roads such as Arctic Boulevard, parts of Northern Lights Boulevard, Third Avenue and Spenard Road.

Areas that fall under “priority level two”, which includes routes of less traffic, may take up to 18 hours to be plowed. Meanwhile, “priority level three” routes, which includes local roads, and “priority level four” areas, which include minor local roads and recreational areas, can take up to 30 hours to be cleared.

As of Tuesday night, 19 plowing sectors of the municipality had yet to be completed. Any areas that have not been plowed since Monday’s snowfall, will be given priority for plowing, regardless of where they fall on the municipality’s plow plan.

By Wednesday morning, no sectors of the plowing grid had been started due to crews having to start over again with the overnight snow and rain. Those interested in keeping up to date with the plowing status of their neighborhood and routes can check out the maintenance page on the municipality website to see what areas have been cleared.

As roads continue to gather with snow, experts recommend that drivers take extra precautions when driving on the roads to avoid accidents and getting stuck in the snow. Agen’s Automotive, an auto repair shop in Anchorage, said during snowstorms they respond to higher volumes of calls due to winter-related accidents.

“Usually it’s, ‘Can you check my front end? It doesn’t drive right since it went into the ditch,’” said Steve Wright, a mechanic at Agen’s Automotive.

Wright said he recommends that people keep gravel and cat litter in their vehicle to provide extra traction on the roads, should they get stuck. He also recommends that people keep a shovel and extra warm clothes in their car.

“Everyone knows about the basic tools and stuff like that, but sometimes they forget, they go on a quick trip to the store and forget hats and gloves, so I like to keep an extra pair of those in the car just in case,” Wright said.

Wright recommends that if drivers find themselves in a situation that they are unable to get themselves out of, they call a tow truck to help eliminate any additional damage that could occur to the car.

“The last thing you want to do is try too hard and break something else,” Wright said.

The continued snow has caused problems for not only drivers, but pedestrians trying to walk the sidewalks.

“You’re either walking anywhere from roads, on top of snow mounds if you dare, or parking lots,” said Anchorage resident Azalia Isenhart.

Across Anchorage, the municipality’s street maintenance department, the municipality’s Parks and Recreation Department and the state transportation department are all in charge of the sidewalks.

“It depends on which road — some roads are getting quite neglected for the year, while others are being taken care of pretty good, as you can tell with this one,” Isenhart said.

But other pathways across the city are not so lucky, with many pedestrians having to take to the streets to walk at all hours of the day.

“Very dangerous at night, because I see people at night walking on the streets,” said David Dohrman.

Pedestrians are also sharing the road with cars.

“I see people walking on the streets. Sometimes they walk their dogs on the street, I sometimes see people in the middle of the road walking on the streets,” Dohrman said. “I wish they don’t but again, no one’s shoveling up the snow on the sidewalks. What are we supposed to do?”

Jerry Inong, who has been walking the streets of Anchorage since 1984, has been stomping the snow to help make make paths for others.

“You can’t really help with nature doing her thing, right?” Inong said. “But when they do plow it’s kind of nice to see the sidewalk plow come after them because it always pushes it over and that makes it hard, and then you get the big boulders and you get trip hazards. I know it’s hard for a lot of elderly people, too.”

The state transportation department said is has two sidewalk plows working 10 hours everyday of the week starting on priority roads, and that it could be a few days before all sidewalks will be cleared dependent on the weather.

The municipality said it had nine sidewalk plows out as of earlier Wednesday, and they are working around the clock. According to the city, if conditions cleared up, it would take 48 hours for the sidewalks to be cleared.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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