The Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) said it will reduce its plowing and road maintenance.
The reduction will bemost apparent to residents during winter storms when the department's efforts are most needed. The announcement also featured a new map showing a priority system for clearing the state's roadways of snow and ice, using 1-through-5 scale to rank each road in order of importance.
According to ADOT, plowing on priority Level 1 roads “may take up to 24 hours to clear after a winter storm,” whereas plowing on Level 2 roads “may take up to 36 hours to clear after a winter storm.” For Level 4 roads, the department says plowing could take as long as 96 hours.
“It’s been a really tough call to make,” said DOT Northern Region spokeswoman Meadow Bailey. “This will really impact us when we have storms. We won’t have the flexibility to respond in the way we have in the past.”
The reductions are a result of budget cuts ADOT received from the Alaska Legislature. The Legislature reduced approximately 11% of the funding it provides to ADOT. Because of the way the department’s funding works, most of the cuts will be felt in maintenance and operations. Most of the money used for road construction comes from the federal government and cannot be used for maintenance such as plowing.
ADOT’s Northern Region, which covers the area of the state north of the Alaska Range, got ride of 15 positions and converted 14 full-time positions to seasonal jobs. The Northern Region also reduced its equipment spending by roughly $1 million and almost entirely cut its budget for overtime.