The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

Icy roads blamed for vehicular accidents on Richardson Highway

Sunday saw first snowstorm in the area and drivers need to be aware


Source: ADOT

Winter driving tips from the Alaska Dept. of Transportation.

Icy roads are being blamed for two separate accidents that occurred Sunday at Milepost 5 on the Richardson Highway.

The Valdez Police Department issued a warning in it's weekly press release stating the conditions on the highway between 10 Mile and Dayville Road were icy and that motorists needed to exercise caution as winter weather settles in.

The season's first snowstorm hit Valdez Sunday, bringing light snow and windy conditions to the area, where drivers had been enjoying clear weather with little or no rain for several weeks.

The local alert has been followed by a statewide public service announcement from the Alaska Dept. of Transportation, warning of winter weather closing in throughout Alaska.

The announcement included a reminder that posted speed limits are the fasted rate of speed vehicles are allowed to drive when road conditions are good, it does not mean it is safe to drive that speed when it is snowing, foggy or icy.

"Remember, posted speed limits are for dry pavement," DOT said.

The department also advises drivers to follow four basic safety tips that could be even more pertinent this year. This is due to the fact that statewide budget cuts have forced ADOT to make numerous cuts to its budget and the organization warned earlier this year that snow removal will be less frequent and take longer on many of the state maintained roads and highways.

"Each winter, ADOT&PF maximizes its resources to meet the provided operating budget," DOT said in a press release. "This winter will be no different. However, response time to all routes may take longer depending on the severity of the winter storm."

DOT is also asking Alaskans to first decide if a it is really necessary to hit the road at all.

"First, be sure to give yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you have the option, consider staying home until roads are cleared and sanded," DOT. "Second, be sure to clear off all the snow and ice from the outside of your vehicle. Don't forget mirrors, windows, lights and both windshields. Third, turn on your vehicle's headlights before getting on the road. Be sure to use turn signals, too; this is especially important when visibility is poor. Finally, always allow more room between you and the vehicle in front of you. This gives you time to react if you encounter unexpected conditions."

Unexpected conditions can include weather events such as snow or even rain falling on an icy road. With slower DOT response times expected this season, be aware of potential hazards.

DOT said it follows "a systematic approach to clear Alaska's roads of snow and ice by categorizing every state-maintained road as one of five priority levels. Each level is based on traffic volume, speed, and connections to communities and other roads within the local transportation network."

When planning to drive in winter, travel information on road conditions can be found online at 511.Alaska.Gov or by calling 511.


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