ADOT&PF Responds to Cordova Snow Storm
(JUNEAU Alaska) The most recent winter storm in Prince William Sound has pummeled Cordova, Yakutat, and Valdez with record snowfalls, causing roofs to collapse and straining the ability of crews to keep critical transportation infrastructure open for use.
A recently adopted policy put forth by Alaska Department of Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken allows for the department to utilize assets of equipment and operators from other parts of the state to respond to winter storms.
Luiken said, “This policy allowed the department to get out ahead of the storm and send operators from Soldotna, Delta, Tok, Ketchikan and Fairbanks to Valdez and Cordova ahead of time to make sure we could keep the airport open and provide additional equipment to work on the roads. This makes for the best utilization of our assets, helping us to meet the need while being efficient with money and personnel.”
ADOT&PF has also assisted by waiving fees for passage on the Alaska Marine Highway for more than fifty Alaska National Guard personnel and some vehicles to travel from Whittier to Cordova to provide additional manpower and safety equipment. Additionally fees were waived for equipment transiting the Whittier Tunnel.
“We are working with the State Emergency Office Center on Operation Dig Deep, who is coordinating the response effort,” said Luiken. “They are doing an excellent job. I’m proud of the quick response my team is able to provide to the communities of Prince Williams Sound in their time of need.”
An avalanche at milepost 5 of the Copper River Highway came down Saturday night, providing ADOT&PF the opportunity to utilize the Cordova Loop Road down by Eyak Lake and open it to two way traffic around the avalanche this morning. Crews hope to have the Copper River Highway open late this afternoon.
Mike Coffey, Maintenance and Operations Chief said, “When we looked at where the storm might hit, we were worried Anchorage and Juneau might also see a large snowfall and didn’t want to move personnel or equipment from those areas. The Interior and Ketchikan looked like they were going to be spared the storm and so we temporarily borrowed personnel from those areas.”
The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 254 airports, 11 ferries serving 33 communities, 5,700 miles of highway and 660 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to Get Alaska Moving by providing for the safe movement of people and goods and through the delivery of state services.