Local News

State boosts winter highway maintenance

Signs warn drivers to stay off slippery city streets.

Ketchikan officials were ready for the weekend’s snowy and icy streets. And one agency added staff and hours to keep roads driveable.

The early-winter ice on some of Ketchikan’s roads is getting more attention this year.

That’s because the state Transportation Department has added a swing-shift staffer.

Ketchikan station foreman Loren Starr says that person will work on evening road issues.

“We get most of our black ice at around 4-4:30 in the afternoon when it’s getting dark. But our swing shift now comes in about 3:30 when the rest of us leave,” he says.

With a night shift, Ketichikan now has about 20-hour-a-day coverage on weekdays.

Starr says he’s working with state troopers to get an early start on slippery conditions.

“Hopefully this will get us out there before an accident occurs which will give us a chance to save … somebody from getting in a wreck,” he says.

State troopers and city police reported no major accidents.

But garages and tire businesses were busy, as residents had snow tires installed.

Borough Public Works Director Ed Schofield says this first full freeze-up usually needs more attention.

“From past experience, the first snowfall that you have like this seems to stick the tightest. because we don’t have any brine on the ground yet. So the first snow is always a little bit contentious,” he says.

The borough doesn’t plow or de-ice roads itself. Its service areas contract out the work.

 

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