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Richardson Hwy: Alaska DOT explains winter road safety and closures

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 4:52 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) closed a portion of the Richardson Highway between Paxon and Trims DOT maintenance camps on Sunday for around 12 hours due to drifting, blowing snow and snow slides that made travel unsafe. According to DOT Publications Specialist Danielle Tessen, the crews were unable to keep the road clear of snow to a safe standard.

“Our equipment operators as they would pass through, within the hour of them going through the road, it would be completely covered,” she said.

According to Tessen one of the big problems was blowing snow resulting from 40 to 80 mph winds in the area. These winds caused whiteout conditions on the highway that made any travel unsafe.

She said this area of the highway has already been closed once before this year which is unusual, but added that DOT has procedures in place to keep roads as safe as possible and close them when they are not able to meet those standards of safety.

According to Tessen DOT barricaded the road off at the maintenance camps to ensure that drivers had facilities to use while they waited for the Richardson to reopen. She said they also do a sweep on the closed road to make sure no one is stuck inside, and to escort out any drivers.

Tessen said that it is important to respect barriers that are placed on the road and not try to go around them. She also encouraged anyone traveling on Alaska Highways to check Alaska 511 for updates on road conditions.

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