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Fairbanks DOT working overtime to keep up with melting snow after record storm

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 5:19 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Unusual weather in Fairbanks has made annual spring snow clearing difficult for the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT). Temperatures in Fairbanks rose a record 79 degrees in two days earlier this week. Early April in the interior saw a record snowstorm followed by record cold temperatures. This weather delayed DOT’s spring work which normally starts in March.

“But right now, this one, we got this big heavy snow event, we had a lot of our roads winged down ready for spring and pushed back, but we basically reset the clock. So we are really in hurry-up mode trying to get everything covered,” said Dan Schacher the Fairbanks District Maintenance and Operations Superintendent at DOT.

After the snowstorm, DOT focused on getting the roads plowed and then cleaning the snow out of intersections. Schacher said that they have finished most of that work and are now focusing on winging the roads. Winging is when they scrape the snow off the sides of the road so it melts into the ditches instead of onto the roadways.

Until they are able to finish, Schacher said said there may be some water on the roads. “We are hoping to get most of it off the road as quick as we can, hopefully they won’t see as many areas with water on them.”

He said they are also having to deal with frozen drains at the same time. “We are thawing out all the drainage systems to keep them open and flowing, and potholes are showing up so we have all that to deal with as well.”

Schacher said this is the busiest spring he has ever seen. Normally these different tasks are spread out over the period of over a month instead of a week. To deal with all the extra work, they have been working 24 hours a day and even called in an additional crew.

“There is an off-shift crew that we were able to bring some extra people with. We did get a little bit of extra funding where we could bring some extra resources in and attack this even a little quicker,” he said.

Schacher said they are hoping to be all caught up soon and have the roads back to normal.

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