Snowstorms, state budget cuts hinder DOT’s sidewalk snow removal
With snowstorm after snowstorm—and state budget cuts—the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) is struggling to keep up with sidewalk snow removal.
Spokesperson Shannon McCarthy said DOT has half the staff devoted to sidewalks it did two years ago. There are now only four employees working around the clock to plow hundreds of miles of sidewalks around Anchorage.
“What happens, often times, is when you clear sidewalks in an ongoing storm is you have to clear it again and that’s what they’ve been having to do,” McCarthy explained.
Crews typically start snow removal in the most heavily trafficked areas. Heavy snowfall over the past week made it difficult for workers to hit every sidewalk sufficiently.
“When you have back-to-back storms, sometimes you have to start back at the top again and work your way down,” McCarthy said. “So there are some sidewalks that haven’t yet been cleared and we’re working toward that.”
On Tuesday there was a well-worn footpath in the snow on the shoulder of Airport Heights Drive. Massive piles of snow filled in the area where the sidewalks should be along Debarr Road. That’s where we found Bambie Kemp traversing a snow berm dangerously close to traffic to get to her son’s school.
“Where it’s the darkest, where you see the dirt is where you can walk,” she said while stepping over chunks of snow and ice.
Kemp doesn’t have a car or driver license and said a bus ticket was too expensive, so that’s why she chose to walk.
“I don’t believe in complaining all the time,” she said. “I deal with what I got. It’s part of living in Alaska, being an Alaskan.”
DOT advises pedestrians to avoid walking in the roadway and find an alternate route if they can.
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