Icy roads, speed factored into weekend car wrecks in Juneau

South Franklin Street in Juneau after a series of snowstorms over Thanksgiving weekend on Nov. 28, 2021. (Photo by Jennifer Pemberton/KTOO)

The winter weather made for slippery conditions on Juneau’s roads over the weekend.

The Juneau Police Department responded to 10 car crashes between Saturday and Sunday. JPD Public Safety Manager Erann Kalwara said nine of those accidents involved a single car. 

“Five of them were vehicles that went in ditches or got high-centered on a snow berm, something like that,” Kalwara said.

Kalwara said most of the accidents were weather-related or because someone was driving too fast for conditions. One person died in an early Saturday roll-over crash, but it’s not clear what caused that accident. 

Kalwara said the number of incidents over the weekend is typical for one with alternating snow and rain. 

Most of the accidents that were reported to us in the [Mendenhall] Valley, a couple were out the road, several were in the area of the McNugget intersection and quite a few on Egan Drive,” she said. 

Most importantly, she said people need to slow down and put space between themselves and other vehicles. Sam Dapcevich with the Alaska Department of Transportation agrees.

DOT maintains most of Juneau’s roads and Dapcevich said they’re facing some uphill battles this year.

“Over the last five or six years, our budget for highways and aviation has been reduced and so we have fewer staff and less equipment available to respond than we did in years passed,” he said. 

Snowplows are on the roads at four in the morning when the winter weather hits. Dapcevich said they’re taking steps to try and be more efficient as well, like using a tow plow. 

“The tow plows can operate quite a bit more efficiently because they take care of multiple lanes in one pass. It has a 26-foot plow basically that reaches across the highway and saves time, allows us to free up resources for other routes,” he said.

He said drivers should give themselves plenty of time to get where they’re going and give snowplows plenty of space on the road. 

Bridget Dowd

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I keep tabs on what’s happening in Juneau’s classrooms for the families they serve and the people who work in them. My goal is to shine a light on both stories of success and the cracks that need to be filled, because I believe a good education is the basis of a strong community.

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