State Plans Safety Improvements to Seward Highway
More turnouts, law enforcement, cell phone coverage
GIRDWOOD - According to the state, the number of fatal vehicle crashes on Alaskan roads is at an all time low. But one road remains particularly dangerous: The Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood has a dangerous history, including two fatal crashes already this year
Some say the fault is with the drivers. Jim Jolin has driven the road for 40 years.
“People are passing in the snow storm and I’m thinking the speed on that is 65 but the weather conditions are about 55, “said Jolin. “I don’t know if improving the road any more is going to help people realize that they need to learn how to drive safely.”
State officials have a plan to help drivers make it down the road in a safer manner. Governor Parnell announced a laundry list Thursday.
“There are plans for more turnouts, better road alignments, more law enforcement, more cell phone coverage and better travel advisory information,” said Parnell.
A number of the safety features are in the works for this summer, like straightening one of the deadliest curves on the highway, mile 88, where a DOT worker recently lost his life.
Other improvements involve technology to keep drivers up to speed with road conditions.
“We will be using cameras, weather sensors, signs and other technical data to help the drivers,” said DOT Commissioner Pat Kemp.
But the DOT says the safest plan of all is still the furthest from reality. That’s a four-lane divided highway. It’s also the most expensive with an estimated cost of $750 million. The DOT says that is the eventual goal, but it is still a long way away.