Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 55°
  • Comment

Road closure time after accident seems excessive

Posted: January 6, 2012 - 9:48am

I don't mean to sound insensitive when there is a tragic accident on the Seward Highway or Sterling Highway but can't help but wonder if it's really necessary to keep the road closed for an excessive period of time, in most cases, six hours or more? I can understand the road being closed for 2 to 3 hours for rescue, investigation and clean up, but 6 hours seems excessive, especially since the Seward and Sterling Highways are the only roads connecting the Kenai Peninsula with Anchorage. People are making trips to the airport, going to appointments, weddings, funerals, concerts, etc. and it seems like getting traffic moving, at least one lane at a time would be important. With modern technology such as GPSs, digital cameras, video cameras, etc., it shouldn't take that long.

I've been past accidents in other states and getting the traffic moving was one of the priorities.

  • Comment

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
midnightalaskan 01/06/12 - 02:51 pm
Are you serious?

Yes, when there is an accident on one of the highways you mentioned. It may take several hours to do a complete investigation, move the wounded and sometimes people are trapped in their car. The EMT's, Fire Department and others involved are doing their best to remove the people in the safest way possible.
If I have to wait many hours to allow full investigation I always pray for those who were involved in the accident that they are alive and well. I would not want them to "hurry" just so they can get traffic moving, the traffic moving is not near as important as those involved in the accident and getting them out safely. The investigation may take some time, but I would rather they did a thorough job of it, even if I have to wait.
As far as maybe having to catch an airplane or whatever, I suggest you allow more than enough time to get to your destination in plenty of time. These roads are dangerous and the people driving on them are sometimes ignorant, therefore, causing these accidents.
I wrote a letter recently concerning the way Peninsula, drivers have no consideration for others on the road. I guess this could be added to the list.
I thank you for the concern you have for those involved in the accident on the road.

Norseman 01/06/12 - 05:34 pm
6 hours is ridiculous

I agree with the author of this post. 6 hours is totally ridiculous. No where else does this occur but here.

There is absolutely no reason they cannot get a pilot car to reroute the traffic in one lane past the accident. Just needs to be implemeted.

lilfox 01/07/12 - 01:22 pm
Excessive Length of Road Closure After Accidents

@ midnightalaskan: A person who was just behind the latest accident scene on the Sterling Hwy. called to agree with me on the excessive closure time. He said it was a small 2 car accident on a five lane stretch with one lane completely open and there was no reason that traffic couldn't be routed around the accident scene. He also said the troopers did not even question the person who followed the eratic driver all the way from Anchorage and witnessed the accident. He said the road was actually closed for 8 hours! This is winter time in Alaska! We need to keep the well being of other travelers on the road in mind as well!

JOAT 01/07/12 - 10:24 am
Very serious, indeed

The rescue phase of an accident is generally over in minutes after the ambulance and rescue crew arrives. Even the worst tangled wreckage can be disassembled so the victim can be removed in minutes. Back when I was working on a rescue crew, I think the longest extrication I can remember was around a half-hour. It can then take another half-hour to get all the equipment put back in the rescue truck so it's ready for the next call. The ambulance is long gone by that time. The scene now belongs to the State Troopers.

A typical accident investigation can be completed by an experienced investigator in about 15 minutes. If they need to do a bunch of witness interviewing, perhaps a half-hour. In most cases, all this work can be completed long before the tow truck arrives to get the road cleared.

For a major and only highway route, such as the Seward or Sterling, there is little reason why the road should be closed for more than 2 hours, regardless of the accident.

alaskasgem 01/08/12 - 10:15 am
too long

to sit without food, water, what if you are in a gas hog and cannot idle that entire time. You would get frosbite waiting in the cold that long. Children needing to potty. Blood sugar dropping, needing a bite of food. Most of us AKers pack for winter trips, but not everyone, and not always enough. Roads are better then 20 years ago, we dont carry a cook stove and soup anymore. Looks like we still should. That closure was way too long.

s2wheel 01/08/12 - 06:06 pm
you guys are ignorant, and

you guys are ignorant, and all you want to do is bellyache if it takes 6 or 10 hours to clean up a wreck then so be it let the people cleaning it up do there job, if there is an accident that bad on winter roads then maybe the roads were so bad that you should have left early or stayed home, and if it were you in that accident you would want the best of care just like everybody else.

Raoulduke 01/10/12 - 02:08 pm

Most of the roads are 2 lane.Long waits must be the collateral payment for living in this fine state.

cbeard 01/11/12 - 03:05 pm
Causes more problems.

Long road closures without dedicating one land to alternating traffic means that the hundreds of vehicles waiting to go will only rush once they've been given the OK, making the potential for one tragic accident to multiply into many more.

Whatever happened to common sense like "a stitch in time saves nine"? If the road isn't big enough, make roads bigger. There's no reason why we can't have 4 lane highways throughout the peninsula anyways.

bushraven 01/13/12 - 11:20 am
check yourself

If we wish to use common sense, we would drop this subject because all went as necessary. The troopers do not just land on a scene to create chaos. If you wish to really understand, do some research.
We do not want 4-lane highways. Many roadside landowners have already given up a lot of land for road improvement. If you want 4-lane highways, you should have chosen California. Avalanches are another factor in road closures. I suppose burying a 4-lane highway and taking more time to uncover it would be no real solution. We do all agree it is a very big inconvenience for everyone when roads are closed.
The solutions, are more than one, and are simple. Most Alaskans know them and practice them.
1. Do not let friends, family, or yourself, drive drunk, tired, or take unnecessary risk when driving these highways!
2. Always use your headlights.
3. Keep your tires and vehicle maintained.
4. Be prepared to spend a few hours stopped, I carry blankets in the trunk, food, extra stuff.
We live in a society that is becoming more and more self-centered and always in a rush. Slow down, and let the troopers do their job. They have spent many tax dollars, and time, to know WHAT to do and WHEN. If they feel a total closure is the safest way to do it, and then get a starbucks, go see a movie, change your plans, or wait.
Do not re-invent the wheel because it does not turn your direction.

Back to Top


Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title
  • title
  • title
My Gallery


  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback