Road conditions to improve heading into the weekend

Anchorage residential “plow out” to be declared by mid-day Friday
Municipality and Alaska State crews hope to have roads, streets, and sidewalks mainly cleared this weekend.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 9:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the Anchorage bowl, the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys, and the western Kenai Peninsula, Thursday morning’s commute was a challenge — with snow-covered, snow-packed, and icy road surfaces. Bare pavement was scarce despite road crews working all night.

Paul Vanlandingham, Maintenance and Operations Manager for the Municipality of Anchorage, attributed the tricky road conditions to the perfect combination of steady snow falling at the wrong time — in this case mainly during the Wednesday evening commute, when temperatures dropped near to just below freezing. It’s a trifecta of circumstances that snow removal crews dread.

“I mean, it’s self explanatory: It snowed all night, we had crews out. It just got covered up until it stopped, you know,” Vanlandingham said. “We’re playing catch-up. It was slick, it was a little bit rough, but things should start evening up here pretty good tonight.

“So this evening we should make our second round on all our arterial roads and collectors, which are our main roads, and hopefully by tomorrow morning, mid-morning, we will be in residential areas plowing out.”

Throughout the day there was a noticeable decrease in the volume of traffic on Anchorage roads, largely due to the Anchorage School District closing schools. Vanlandingham stated that the less volume throughout the day allowed his crews to complete their initial sweep of the city’s roads more quickly.

Just like the Municipality of Anchorage, Department of Transportation crews have also been hard at work around the clock since the snow began on Tuesday. With more miles to cover and changing topography, the process usually has more challenges.

For these first two storms, one of those challenging areas has been much of the Kenai Peninsula, which experienced the heaviest snowfall totals. By Thursday afternoon, however, there were no reported road issues on the Sterling or Seward Highways as DOT crews had finished clearing highways and major roadways on Wednesday. Thursday saw a continuation of work on the remaining roads while also spot sanding glazing on some road surfaces.

“Crews are focusing on getting the major roads and highways cleared should be cleared by tomorrow morning. But drivers should be prepared for a longer commute this evening,” Department of Transportation’s Justin Shelby said.

“This is a dense and heavy snowfall takes a little bit longer to clear. It’s typical of early snowfalls. We’re asking the drivers be alert to snowpack and ice on the roadways, particularly on the Seward Highway South of Potter Marsh to Indian, where we had weather conditions followed by freezing temperatures.”

Vanlandingham also says his team already has a jumpstart on clearing sidewalks.

Vanlandingham expects the city’s official “plow out” order to be declared by midday Friday at the latest. His crews then have an 84-hour goal to clean off neighborhood streets, which you can monitor and track online. Residents can help crews by making arrangements to park cars somewhere other than the street.

Above all, continue to plan extra travel time, braking distance, and patience while traveling anywhere throughout Southcentral on Friday and the weekend.