Snow berms cause dangerous driving conditions
Recent accumulations of snow are causing snow to pile up along city streets and neighborhoods. The snow berms are overflowing and crossing the passenger-side white lines on the road. The conditions make more dangerous commutes leaving drivers with nowhere to go should something happen in front or around them.
"You get pushed over into the snow and it gets hard to control," Alyssa Cottrell said. "When you hit it and get in that snow you get caught. If you're not constantly jerking your wheel to the left, it could end up pretty bad."
The Alaska Department of Transportation and the Municipality of Anchorage work together in clearing the roads. The muni handles most of the city streets.
"We do things a little bit different than the muni," Public Information Officer at the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Shannon McCarthy said. "What we do with our higher speed plows is push it as far back as we can into the right of way. Then we come back through and do the sidewalk. Sometimes we have to clear multiple times."
The muni and DOT are aware of the excess of snow and are planning a time in the very near future to haul it away.
"In the middle of the night," McCarthy said, "Crews will bring in heavy equipment and load the snow into trucks and haul it off to a snow dump. Right now, it is difficult for us to clear the sidewalks because we use small blowers and there is such a build up. It's difficult for the blowers to pick up the heavy snow, the chunks and ice."
McCarthy says it's a never-ending battle for the muni and the DOT to try to keep the roads open and to clear of as much snow as possible. The snow berms allow the roads to be traveled on but they do pose hazards. Two lane roads are reduced to one lane roads. Ruts in the road make it hard to maneuver and to change lanes. Vehicles have no side shoulder or escape route should something happen.
"When you're trying to stay in your lane and you can't because the berm is pushing back into the other lane, that's a problem," Donald Alexander said. "If you're not paying attention, that snow can pull you right in. People need to pay attention and anticipate. Know your vehicle, know your tires and watch the cars ahead of you. Not the cars directly in front of you but further down, if they are stopping, you're going to be stopping soon, too."
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