FAIRBANKS (AP) -- State road crews have begun chipping away at the sheet of snow and ice covering the Taylor Highway.
It will be at least three more weeks, however, before people living in Eagle can drive out the 160-mile highway connecting the Yukon River village with the rest of Alaska.
''We're hoping to be into Chicken by the end of the week,'' DOT area manager Jim Fehrenbacher in Tok said Monday.
Chicken is 67 miles from the Taylor Highway's intersection with the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction. That puts it about 200 miles south of Fairbanks.
The state is hoping to have the road open to traffic by the second week in April.
The Taylor Highway is one of two main highways, both gravel, the state does not maintain in winter. The Denali Highway connecting Cantwell on the Parks Highway with Paxson on the Richardson Highway is the other.
It usually takes about a month to clear snow and ice from the Taylor Highway to make it passable for traffic, Fehrenbacher said.
''I think it's going to go quicker this year. We don't have as much snow as last year,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''It depends what we run into.''
Overflow could be a problem because of the unusually mild winter, Fehrenbacher said. The road is covered by small glaciers in several spots, with O'Brien Creek at Mile 125 a notoriously bad spot every year, he said.
''It looks we had some springs that ran all winter long.''
Crews won't begin clearing the Denali Highway for another couple of weeks, said Mike Brooks at the Cantwell DOT station.
''We don't usually start clearing until later because we can still get snow at this time of year,'' Brooks said. ''We don't want to clear snow and then plow it again because it snows.
''Usually, the goal is to have it opened by the end of April,'' he said.
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