DOT looking for funds to study moose-car accidents

Clarion file photo Traffic yields to an adult moose on Kalifornsky Beach Road near its intersection with the Sterling Highway in Soldotna in this August 2010 photo. The state Department of transportation and Public Facilities is seeking funding to study the effectiveness of right-of-way clearing in preventing moose-vehicle collisions.

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities is seeking funding to analyze how effectively right-of-way clearing reduces moose-vehicle accidents.

 

The Sterling Highway, between Sterling and Soldotna; Kalifornsky Beach Road and Knik Goose Bay Road in Wasilla are the three priority highways in the study, DOT Regional Traffic Engineer Scott Thomas said. The study includes other highways, too, but Thomas was unable to provide their names.

Kalifornsky Beach Road and Kink Goose Bay Road are some of the highest ranking highways in Alaska for moose-vehicle accidents, he said. The Sterling Highway ranked the highest between 2001 and 2005, according to a 2007 a DOT and Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles report.

DOT hopes to begin the study this winter, and it would be completed in one to two years, Thomas said.

The department seeks $50,000 to $100,000 from the Federal Highway Administration, he said.

DOT has made “serious attempts” to remove the source of moose-vehicle accidents along the three highways to be included in the study, he said. But the department is uncertain if its efforts have reduced accidents, he said.

The department felled and removed willows around the Sterling Highway, it cut back brush on Kalifornsky Beach Road, and it cleared and grubbed other moose browse from Knik Goose Bay Road, he said.

But many other factors could contribute to swings in accident frequencies, he said. More moose living in the area or more vehicles traveling the highway is one factor, he said. Another would be a cold, deep winter that chased moose to the roadside in search of food, he said.

“It takes time to build up the data,” he said.

The University of Alaska Anchorage would partner with DOT for the study, he said. UAA would review the road and accident data DOT collects to try to find a correlation between accidents and the potential variables, he said.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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