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Fairbanks North Star Borough continues plowing efforts following winter storm

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 4:50 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As the Interior took the brunt of a severe December winter storm, Fairbanks North Star Borough facilities experienced 5 days of weather-related closures.

From snow removal to borough services, the borough continues to experience difficulties caused by the weather event.

Borough Mayor Bryce Ward told us, “We definitely had some significant impacts to borough facilities over the three storms that we had.”

According to Ward, these challenges were made worse by the timing of the storms. “It happened over the holidays, and especially after the pandemic and all of the challenges we’ve experienced over the last few years, we really encouraged folks to take time off. So I’d say we were a little short staffed over the holiday season to deal with this particular type of emergency.”

Meanwhile, service areas in more rural borough locations continue to see a need for additional plowing.

Jim Williams, borough Chief of Staff said, “The contractors went through and basically busted out a lane, and don’t have everything plowed out nice and wide yet - so they’re slowly working through that. It’s just taking a lot of time to dig through that snow.”

Ward added, “They’re going to be going back through and doing work, as requested by commissioners, to widen those roads and to get them more accessible, if you will.”

This need creates a challenge, as commissioners of these service areas only have a certain amount of funding to work with. “All of our road service areas operate under the tax cap,” Ward said, “and have only allocated certain funding, depending on their tax rate, for a number of plows, etc. So many commissioners are making difficult decisions on, do they spend their fund balance? How far do they dip into their savings to do additional plowing?”

Ward asks the public to be patient with their commissioners while crews work to further clear the roads.

A map of borough Service Areas can be found here.

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