- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities officials say they will reduce plowing and road maintenance services.

The department announced its reduced winter road maintenance Thursday, saying the reduction will be most noticeable during storms, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/1iPAITo ).

“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 reduction in services is in response to cuts the department received from the Alaska Legislature. The Legislature cut about 11 percent of the funding it provides the department.

Bailey says the Northern Region cut 15 positions and converted 14 full-time positions to seasonal jobs. It also reduced its equipment spending and almost entirely cut its overtime budget.

Bailey said fewer workers and less overtime hours will hurt the department’s ability to respond to storms.

“It will take longer for sure,” she said.

The DOT is still in the process of switching to its winter scheduled. The northern region will be unstaffed on weekends until the start of October, Bailey said. If snow this weekend becomes a problem, she said they will consider using overtime to clear critical roads, though that could affect the department’s ability to respond to storms later in the winter.

In hopes of assuaging some concerns about long waits, the department unveiled a map showing a priority system for clearing roadways. They also attached hour estimates to priority levels, with Level 1 roads taking up to 24 hours to clear after a winter storm and Level 4 roads taking as long as 96 hours to clear.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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