Wild weather, near-record snowfall strains Anchorage's street maintenance department
City road crews working around the clock to clear neighborhood streets
ANCHORAGE- The Municipality of Anchorage’s (MOA) Street Maintenance Department has been working around the clock since Sunday’s unusual weather pattern produced a challenging combination of heavy snow, freezing rain, hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions.
This extreme weather event was in addition to the near-record snowfall experienced in the city already this winter, with November producing the second highest month for snowfall in Anchorage’s history. To date, Anchorage has received 48 inches of snow.
On Sunday, municipal crews responded to downed trees, flooding streets and numerous sanding calls. During the evening and into Monday, crews plowed and sanded all arterial and collector streets. These streets are given highest priority because of their importance to emergency responders, and the fact that they are the most heavily traveled.
By Monday night, crews began removing snow from the downtown Central Business District and hazardous school walking routes.
“This has been a very unusual year for snow and crazy weather,” said Mayor Dan Sullivan. “That said, I want citizens to know that our snow removal crews are working at full strength, and that they are fully funded for this and next year’s budget. These guys know what they’re doing, and they’re working as fast as they can.”
Currently, all available crews are at work. This translates to 90 employees covering 24- hour coverage. Crews started the residential plow out Plan B on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. Barring any more significant snowfall, estimated time for completing the plow out is 6:30 a.m. on Friday. Once plowing is complete, residential snow hauling will resume with all crews on all shifts.
The State of Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) bears responsibility for maintaining many of the city’s larger streets, like the Seward and Glenn Highways, C and A Streets and Dimond Boulevard. In most cases, the MOA is responsible for plowing smaller neighborhood roads. The general rule is that if a road is four lanes or larger, the State is responsible for maintaining it.
Street Maintenance asks for the public’s cooperation in keeping parked cars off the streets whenever possible. This allows crews to remove the snow from residential areas more efficiently. If citizens have valid safety concerns, they should contact the Street Maintenance Control Center at 343-8277, or online at http://www.muni.org/streets. A plow out map also is available on the site.
In the meantime, the forecast calls for more snow. The general rule for snowfalls of more than four inches is to expect residential plow outs to be complete within 72 hours of the last snowflake falling. If crews begin plowing and it starts snowing again, they will return to the collector and arterial roads before completing residential areas.
“Please understand the unprecedented weather that we’ve seen this winter and bear with us,” said Street Maintenance Director Alan Czajkowski. “We’ll get to everyone as soon as we can.”
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