For a state that is known for harsh winter weather, our winter road maintenance system is pathetic. Coming home from the night shift the other morning, I was reminded of the joke that is our snow clearing system. About 6 inches had fallen over night and it was still on the main road in Kenai at 6 a.m.
Driving through town, I looked over to see the grader going down the road that parallels the main road in Kenai. Why was the grader on this road instead of the main one? Someone's priorities are screwed up. I headed out of Kenai and onto K-Beach, plowing throw the snow with my car at about 20 below the speed limit, getting tossed around, almost losing control into oncoming traffic. I was at Gaswell Road before I even saw a grader on the main road.
Because the graders wait so long to get to clearing main roads or they're simply aren't enough of them, crazy ruts get packed into the road, making it incredibly difficult and dangerous to drive on. Once the plows come through, they can't get down low enough to get rid of the ruts that have developed. Then, it warms up quite a bit, but the plows don't bother to take the opportunity to clear the slush down to the black top, so it ends up harder with more ruts when it gets cold.
The rough, rutted roads make life miserable. It's hard on our vehicles, people have to drive slower (which wastes fuel and causes more pollution) and it causes accidents -- some of which are fatal. Who is to blame for this? Those budgeting for road maintenance? The supervisors who decide when drivers will go out with the plows? Lazy drivers? As a tax payer, I'd really like to know because it's absolutely ridiculous. Clear, safe roads should be a priority in Alaska -- not an after thought. I feel like a few citizens with regular trucks could do a better job at keeping the streets clear than the cities and boroughs. I think the Clarion's next poll should be about whether or not people feel winter road maintenance is satisfactory.
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