With several areas of the state already experiencing winter weather, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public facilities (ADOT&PF) will have to manage its roads with fewer resources this winter.
"We’re working to create as much efficiency as possible," ADOT&PF Public Information Officer Meadow Bailey recently told TI News Daily. "We’re trying to maintain a high level of safety while acknowledging that we have less resources to work with.”
Lower oil prices are the cause of the budget reductions affecting all state agencies. The state legislature cut approximately 11 percent of the ADOT&PF's funding.
Drivers, in particular, will feel the impact as most of the cuts will come in maintenance and operations since the bulk of the money for road repairs comes from federal funds, which can't be used for maintenance operations such as snow plowing.
High-volume highways will be the first priority for the ADOT&PF, which then will deploy resources accordingly.
“We expect that people will not see much of a difference in the day-to-day operations," Bailey said. "During storms, we will have fewer staff and less equipment on the road, so our response will take longer. For example, in the past we would keep staff on extended hours to keep roads open. This winter, staff will work their normal shifts, unless it’s an emergency situation.”
ADOT&PF is responsible for 11 ferries and 249 airports serving 35 communities, 720 public facilities, and 5,619 miles of highways across the state.