Road crews expect ‘quite a weekend’ taking on quake damage
State road crews are scrambling to deal with damage ranging from Seward to Palmer, in the wake of Friday’s 7.0 earthquake which has affected homes and infrastructure across the region.
Shannon McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said in a Saturday interview that road crews were taking on numerous repair projects across the region.
“Every single spot that is a disruption to Alaska travel is being worked on right now,” McCarthy said.
In Anchorage crews were prioritizing weekend repairs to Minnesota Drive’s northbound offramp at International Airport Road. Their work has been bolstered by the Federal Highway Administration’s provision of an immediate $5 million for work on damaged state roads.
“They are working 24/7 and they’re going to continue working until that’s open,” McCarthy said.
Bridge inspection teams have also been brought into town from across the state, McCarthy said, but have reported no significant damage to local bridges.
Beyond Anchorage, road crews were working on damage at three major points along the Glenn Highway: near the Eagle River bridge, the Mirror Lake/Thunderbird Falls area and the “flyaway” ramp at the Glenn-Parks highway interchange northbound to Palmer.
Although McCarthy was hoping for updates on when the Glenn Highway – which was down to a total of three lanes Friday night – might fully reopen to traffic, she said that was being balanced against whether doing so would affect the repair work.
“It’s really hard for our crews to actively work and repair while there’s traffic going on,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also warned drivers to be aware of work on sloughing road surfaces along the Seward Highway, which was closing two northbound lanes between Tudor Road and 36th Avenue. Traffic was already backing up in the area by 2 p.m. Saturday.
Crews were also on standby to deal with rockslides along the Seward south of Anchorage, which briefly closed the highway in the Potter Marsh area Friday night.
DOTPF was also warning drivers about deteriorating weekend weather conditions in the area, with snow, winds and below-freezing temperatures all expected overnight Saturday.
“It’s going to be quite a weekend to be out on the roads,” McCarthy said.
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