The Alaska Department of Public Safety announced Tuesday that drivers in areas below the 60th parallel north, including virtually all of Southeast Alaska, will have until May 1 to take studded tires off their road vehicles.
The normal deadline for studded tires, also referred to as “snow tires,” to be off the roads in parts of the state that fall south of the 60th parallel is April 15.
According to Commissioner Joseph Masters in an email Wednesday, state officials determined that the deadline should be extended due to persistent winter weather.
“With the recent significant snowfall in Southcentral Alaska there is expected to be snow and ice on roadways, particularly on side roads past the April 15 deadline in areas within the Kenai Peninsula that are south of that line,” Masters wrote, referring to the 60th parallel. “Additionally, forecast overnight temperatures are still below freezing and likely to cause icy conditions on roadways that have become wet during the day. These forecasts for freezing temperatures extend into southeast Alaska as well. For reasons of safety it was necessary to push the deadline to allow drivers the continued use of studded tires.”
Masters added that drivers coming north on the Alaska Marine Highway System are likely to experience wintry conditions on the Alaska Highway as well.
A spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said the decision to extend the deadline was made in consultation with his department, which manages state roads and highways.
“DOT&PF and DPS consulted prior to the announcement going out,” Jeremy Woodrow wrote in an email Wednesday. “Both commissioners agreed that, due to the lingering winter weather across southern portions of the state, it would be in the best interest of public safety to extend the deadline to May 1 for areas below the 60th parallel.”
Snow fell in Juneau on Wednesday, the day after Masters’ decision to extend the studded-tire period was announced.
“Providing safe travel is always the top priority for DOT&PF but, as you are probably aware, studded tires do contribute to the deterioration of Alaska’s roadways,” Woodrow said. “Therefore, when the studs are no longer necessary for safe travel, it helps to prolong the life of the road surface when folks switch to regular tires during the warmer months of the year.”
The studded-tire period for parts of the state south of the 60th parallel is shorter than for the rest of Alaska.
Studded tires are not allowed on roadways in Southeast Alaska and other southern areas between April 15 and Sept. 30.
For the rest of the state, studded tires are not allowed between May 1 and Sept. 15.
Masters explained that the May 1 date is used when the southern studded-tire period must be extended because it coincides with the deadline for the rest of the state.
“I felt it important to notify the public as far in advance as possible to give them the opportunity to decide when the best time to have their studded tires removed, prior to the new deadline,” Masters wrote.
The DPS cautioned in its Tuesday statement that “those driving with studded tires after the deadline could be issued a correctable ticket with a $50 fine.”
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 586-1821 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.