Most of the 1.2-mile portion of the Glacier Highway at the Auke Village Recreation Area will not be plowed during the winter, the U.S. Forest Service has decided.
During periods of harsh weather, residents living at the end of the road will need to take the new Auke Bay bypass. However, the city will oversee plowing of the section of the road where people live.
"It seems like all of the agencies involved agreed that there needed to be a way that these folks continue to have their roads plowed," said Ron Marvin, recreation staff officer for the Forest Service. "It was mostly just a matter of logistics."
The state will continue to oversee winter road maintenance of the bypass, said Greg Patz, the Department of Transportation's chief of maintenance and operations for the Southeast region.
"We will be taking care of the main highway, the bypass and making sure there is safe travel," Patz said.
The Glacier Highway easement was turned over to the Forest Service after the bypass was constructed. Previously, the state highway passed through national forest lands directly adjacent to the Auke Rec area.
"If you were stopping at the rec area it was a little bit hazardous, particularly if you had kids, because there was high-speed traffic right next to where they were," Marvin said.
After the bypass was completed, the state passed on the responsibility.
"The state ... wants to maintain two routes, and we wanted to get that road ownership back so we could improve the parking situation and safety at the Auke Rec recreation area," Marvin said.
Signs will be posted to alert drivers to the lack of winter maintenance. The Forest Service next will consider how it wants to manage the section of highway in the long term.
"There's a variety of options," Marvin said. "When we're ready to tackle this, we'll do some outreach to the people and the public. We recognize that there's a lot of winter use out there you can't just close it off."
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