10 a.m. update: The state Transportation Department has closed a portion of the Richardson Highway around Paxson, due to snowfall and drifts in the roadway. Traffic is being halted just south of Fort Greely until the roadway is cleared.
Heavy snowfall Thursday and this morning has made already slick road surfaces around the Interior made even more so by Thursday’s heavy snowfall.
Fairbanks-area police and Alaska State Troopers reported several wrecks and vehicles in the ditch along the Richardson Highway Thursday afternoon, especially around North Pole.
Motorists slowed to a crawl to negotiate the dangerously slick roadway, making the afternoon commute for many home a long, slow ordeal.
The wintry weather prompted the state transportation department to issue a travel advisory Thursday afternoon recommending that motorists avoid driving on the 55-mile stretch of the Richardson between Eielson and Shaw Creek due to heavy snowfall and drifts created by high winds. The department also issued advisories for the Parks and Steese highways.
The National Weather Service posted a winter storm warning effective through 6 this morning. Some scattered snow showers are forecast until noon today.
State Transportation Department spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says snowplows worked late into the evening Thursday, and will be out in force again today.
Bailey reminded motorists must approach a snowplow slowly and carefully, and when approaching from behind should keep a safe distance back until it’s safe to pass.
She says motorists have slammed into the back of snow-clearing equipment on Interior roadways four times over the past 10 days, including a fatal rear-ender on the Steese Highway on Friday.
Travelers are urged to check the transportation department's traveler information webpage to determine road conditions.