The Alaska Department of Transportation plowing of the three highways in Nome is underway in earnest.
According to ADOT Western District Superintendent Calvin Schaeffer, snow removal on the Teller, Taylor and Council highways began last week and continues into this week.
“As of Monday, we have been plowing in all three directions,” Schaeffer said. “We started on Teller Monday with a D8 dozer. We have another dozer headed out toward Cape Nome. They’re close to the Cape now. On the Kougarok, Q Trucking start on Monday with their D8. They should be going at about 15, 16 or 17 mile where the big snowdrift is.”
According to Schaeffer, Q Trucking in Nome is the contractor used by ADOT to augment the state’s ability to push snow off the roads.
“We use them for all our extra support right now,” Schaeffer said. “We use three, four or five trucks in the winter. In the summer we use maybe a grader and one or two dozers as needed. It’s all as needed. And during the road openings, we usually take one dozer, sometimes two from them. This year, we’ll probably use two.”
Schaeffer said snow is different every year, and 2023 is no different.
“It’s been different every year, different winds, different snows,” Schaeffer said. “We’ve had snow February, March, April again this past year … so as of January it looks like a pretty good year. February started and by March we had a lot of snow accumulation. So, it’s different and we’ve got snow in areas we didn’t [before]. I would say on average, it’s just a little above average from history and historical in my knowledge of being in Nome.”
And according to Schaeffer, the effects of Typhoon Merbok on the Council highway won’t be felt until the plowing teams are around the 40-mile mark.
“The hard part is that we’ll be trying to get other equipment we need when we get past the Big Hurrah, and do the cuts past the East Fork, about 40-something mile out there,” Schaeffer said. “When we start getting into the heavy cuts, we’ll need a second dozer and possibly some other equipment.”
As plowing continues along with the spring thaw, Schaeffer appealed to Nome drivers to slow down.
“I’m already seeing it where we open them up and it’s an ice road, and people are speeding, not just out of town but in town,” Schaeffer said. “It’s your roads guys; If you drive at the speed limits or a little slower, they’re gonna last a lot longer than speeding and highballing on the roads to get somewhere.”
Plowing by ADOT and Q Trucking will continue this week.
Image at top: A view of plowing at the bypass road from Anvil to Dexter. Photo by Calvin Schaeffer/State of Alaska