The first measurable snowfall Friday created a mess on many Southcentral roads. By the evening, most major streets were cleared of snow. However, many side streets had not yet seen a plow.

Both the Alaska Department of Transportation and the street maintenance division of the Anchorage municipality plow the busiest thoroughfares first. For DOT, prioritizing is especially important after budget cuts.

“What we had before was pretty lean to begin with. So we’re still working as hard as we possible can with the resources that we have, but people are going to notice a longer response time,”said Shannon McCarthy, a spokesperson for the DOT, who explained that the department had 10 percent fewer employees than it did two years ago.

State crews clear “priority one” roads like the Glenn and Seward highways first. They then move on to priority two and three roads, such as Dimond Boulevard and C Street. While it was not used Thursday night because of the rain, DOT plans to use more brine to make the plowing process easier.

“Our commodities are pretty precious to us. So a brine allows us to be really effective,” said McCarthy.

The state is not responsible for plowing all of the city’s streets. The municipality also plows a significant amount, and generally takes care of streets owned by the city.

A map on the DOT website shows which streets they are responsible for and how those are prioritized. (Click to visit the map.)

A map on the DOT website shows which streets they are responsible for and how those are prioritized.

[Click the image above to view the map on the DOT website.]

“We have as many as 20 plows out at any given time,” said James Belz, a street maintenance supervisor with the municipality.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz recently announced plans to cut the budget for plowing streets. Those changes would take effect next year.

For now, city crews are focusing on clearing streets in the parts of town with the most snow.

“[We] start working the eastern neighborhoods,” said Belz. “The west side of town is already starting to show pavement in the subdivisions so we’re going to work our way from east to west.”

According to the Anchorage Police Department, there were 52 car crashes and 91 vehicles in distress as of 8 p.m. Friday. Those numbers compare to 12 and eight, respectively, on Thursday.

KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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