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Freezing, thawing to continue through New Year's

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Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
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Warm overnight temperatures and a bit of rain conspired for an icy start to the working week. Borough offices and operations were closed for an extra hour Monday morning, while poor road conditions were responsible for numerous vehicles ending up in ditches along the main roads of the Central Peninsula, backing up traffic in at least one instance on the Sterling Highway, north of Soldotna. Alaska Department of Transportation spokesperson Caitlin Frye says crews were responding throughout the day.

“Our operators...are treating the roads with brine as part of our anti-icing program. I know the roads are really slick out there, our operators are doing their best to try to improve conditions, but people should keep in mind that travel could be tough and make sure that their vehicles are properly equipped for winter travel and just be aware it’s going to be slick on the roads today.”

Accordingly, social media was aflutter with road reports throughout the day, with people posting about nasty driving conditions all the way to Anchorage. The state has just updated its own tools for relaying road condition information, in a revamped website and mobile app that Frye says offers more details for travels.

“We’ve integrated some other stuff into the website that we hope will give people a broader picture about conditions. We traffic speed data now integrated into this system so you can see how fast vehicles are traveling to try to give yourself an idea about conditions. We also have National Weather Service forecasts that you can view within the app and the website. And then we’re also integrating user reports,” Frye said.

Those reports from travelers can be submitted through another app, called Waze, and include information about road conditions, vehicle accidents and more.

“We’ve got our regular road conditions, but we’re trying to integrate as much additional information as possible to try to give people a better idea of what they’re going to confront on the road. We’re doing our best to keep up with the public’s expectations about what kind of information we share, but we’re still limited by some things. We still need people to go out and look at conditions on the road and then input that information into our system, but the more data we can get will help people make informed decisions about traveling.” 

She says the app is completely new, and will need to be downloaded if you have the old one already installed.