Alaska Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bill would designate dangerous highways

JUNEAU - The governor is proposing a bill that would designate certain stretches of highway as dangerous, where speeding and other violations would carry double the normal fines.

Gov. Frank Murkowski said the impetus behind the bill is the public's growing concern over deadly accidents on the Seward Highway in recent years.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bill Tandeske, however, said that's not the deadliest stretch of highway in the state. That distinction goes to an 11-mile stretch of the Parks Highway starting a couple of miles outside of Wasilla and ending up near Big Lake, he said.

Under the Murkowski administration's proposal, Transportation Department officials would identify problem stretches of highway, such as the 11-mile stretch of the Parks and the Seward between Girdwood and Potter.

Special road signs at the beginning and end of each stretch would warn drivers that they are in a traffic-safety zone and face stiffer penalties for speeding and other traffic infractions, similar to those they face in work zones.

If a driving offense were to result in his or her arrest, judges would be required to set bail at twice as much as it would be had the driver committed the offense outside the traffic-safety zone.

Transportation Commissioner Mike Barton said officials would look at a host of statistics to determine the safety zones, including the number and frequency of accidents and the number of deaths. He said the program would cost the state about $5,000 for each zone, mostly for road signs.

Separately, Murkowski signed a bill into law that allows police to stop drivers for seat-belt violations.

Anchorage father of three killed in accident

ANCHORAGE - A father of three children was killed when the driver of a stolen pickup truck who was fleeing police slammed into the man's sedan at an intersection, police said.

The driver of the stolen truck had rammed half a dozen other vehicles Tuesday trying to get away from police before the truck slammed into a sedan at a high speed at a Lake Otis Parkway intersection.

The stolen truck had eluded police for miles, officers said. They had shot at it after it slammed several vehicles before the collision with the sedan. Police said they were not chasing the truck when it fled north on Lake Otis, ran a red light at 20th Avenue and broadsided the sedan.

Stephen J. Strain, 35, of Anchorage, was killed in the collision, which folded his car into a mass of metal and scattered pieces of his vehicle.

The driver of the pickup fled on foot. Dozens of officers, a police dog and a helicopter fanned out across the neighborhood to find him.

Kristopher Felber, 21, was to be arraigned Wednesday.

Felber was found hiding in a backyard and was taken into custody. He is charged with second-degree murder and several other felonies and was being held at the Anchorage jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

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