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

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Gaining traction: be prepared for winter roads is the best policy

ADOT has advice for Alaskans traveling in rains, snow and icy conditions


November 1, 2017

"We can't deny it," ADOT said in an email this week sent by spokeswoman Meadow Baily. "For much of the state, winter is here."

ADOT is reminding drivers to be prepared before hitting Alaska's unpredictable road conditions and offered four basic tips.

"First, be sure to give yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you have the option, wait until conditions improve," DOT said. "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."

This is especially important in Valdez, where winter snows are often measured in feet, not inches.

Experts also tout the benefits of keeping winter tires in tip-top condition.

"Third, turn on your vehicle's headlights before getting on the road," DOT advised. "Be sure to use turn signals, too; this is especially important when visibility is poor."

Tailgating is also on ADOT's radar.

"Finally, always allow more room between you and the vehicle in front of you," the agency said. "This gives you time to react if you encounter unexpected conditions."

Knowing current road conditions are also key to staying safe on Alaska winter roads. Before starting a trip, consult 511.Alaska.Gov to find the latest information on road conditions.

ADOT also offers an interactive winter snow removal map on its website that drivers can consult to get an idea of snow removal priority on roads they plan to travel.

"ADOT&PF 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," ADOT said. "Each level is based on traffic volume, speed, and connections to communities and other roads within the local transportation network. Response time during winter weather is usually dependent on the severity of the storm."

Valdez is known for its ability to deal with heavy snows but in the day and age of severe state budget cuts, travelers outside Valdez could be in for unwelcome surprises.

Most streets in Valdez are not maintained by the state, but are under the purview of the city.

Source: ADOT

Alaska Dept. of Transportation has a map on its website that shows drivers the priority level roads and highways fall under for snow removal.

It is illegal to park on city streets during the winter months because it interferes with snow removal.

Each year after the first large snowfall, Valdez police are tasked with contacting the owners of vehicles that have been illegally parked on city streets - and police have devoted large amounts of time and effort in contacting owners before towing vehicles.

To avoid the hassle of needing to move your vehicle when snow removal occurs, it is best to avoid parking on city streets during winter.

The same goes for state maintained streets and highways.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 249 airports, ferries serving 35 communities, 5,619 miles of highway and 720 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska.


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