Icy roads keep emergency responders busy

Icy road conditions Wednesday morning caused a number of accidents along the Sterling Highway, in Sterling and Soldotna. Central Emergency Services responded to four accidents, three of which were roll-overs. Alaska State Troopers responded to eight accidents -- injuries were sustained during two of them.


"Icy conditions, the black ice was a big factor," CES Fire Marshal Gary Hale said. "It caught drivers by surprise in the morning."

One of the four accidents CES responded to Wednesday was in Sterling, the other three were south of Soldotna toward the Mile 99-101 area of the Sterling Highway.

Hale said black ice can still linger after the sun comes up in areas that may be shaded by trees and do not receive adequate sunlight to melt the ice in time for commuters.

"It surprises some of the drivers that go into the shadow areas that still have black ice after sun hours," Hale said.
Hale said it is difficult to check road conditions until motorists are already on the road.

"They can't check road conditions until they can stop on asphalt," Hale said. "The first time they stop at a stop sign, road conditions are totally different from when they begin their journey until they get into another area."

Troopers responded to two accidents in Soldotna -- one at Ciechanski Road and one north of Arc Loop. Troopers also responded to one accident in Cooper Landing at Mile 54 of the Sterling Highway. There were five accidents that occurred on the Sterling Highway in the Mile 91-100 area, which is south of Soldotna.

With the increase of traffic accidents Wednesday -- along with the first snow imminent, local business are preparing for the tire-change rush.

"It's been slowly getting busy every day, especially today with the ice on the roads," Johnson's Tire Service salesman Mike Johnson said.

Jeff Rogers, assistant manager at Alyeska Tire Service in Kenai said October is the peak month for tire changes.

"People wait 'til the last minute," he said. "The last three weeks we've been pretty busy."

Hale said icy road conditions could continue.

"If we get more rain and temperatures drop below freezing, we could see identical or worse conditions." he said.

Logan Tuttle can be reached at logan.tuttle@peninsulaclarion.com.