If you reside in Alaska, this email won’t come as much of a surprise. If you are a potential visitor, it might incite some anxiety, and even a fair amount of anger. We don’t blame you; we’re feeling the same thing.
Here is the message I received from the Alaska Department of Transportation just about an hour ago: I’ve highlighted the important points, and critical areas for Alaska travelers to note.
“Due to the uncertainty of a fully funded State of Alaska fiscal year 2016 operating budget, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) is preparing to reduce services statewide on July 1, 2015, the start of the new state fiscal year.
“We are still hopeful that the legislature will pass a fully funded budget. However, we must have a plan in place so that the traveling public is prepared and understands what services will and will not be affected,” said ADOT&PF Commissioner Marc Luiken.
Without a fully funded operating budget the following ADOT&PF services will be impacted after June 30, 2015:
Alaska Marine Highway System: All 11 vessels will enter layup status and will not provide passenger service.
Weights and Measures: These services will be limited.
Road Maintenance and Operations: Preventative Maintenance funded by the federal government on state highways will continue into September. Emergency response will be available for signal and general highway issues.
Public Facilities: Will provide emergency monitoring and response only.
Support staff and accounting: Staff will be reduced to paying bills and processing payroll.
The following ADOT&PF services will continue to be provided:
Whittier Tunnel: Will continue to operate as normal.
International Airports: Ted Stevens Anchorage International and Fairbanks International airports will continue to operate as normal.
State Airports: Part 139 certificated airports that serve larger passenger and jet aircraft will operate with reduced hours.
Planning, Design and Construction: All projects currently being planned, designed and are under contract for construction will continue.
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement: Overweight/oversize permitting will be available.”
How does this affect you?
- If you’ve scheduled a ferry trip after June 30, 2015, it may or may not be departing as scheduled. Call the Alaska Marine Highway Reservations line at 800-642-0066 for guidance.
- If you have a flight scheduled to arrive or depart from Anchorage or Fairbanks, nothing has changed.
- If you are scheduled to fly in or out of a smaller Alaska airport that serves jets; Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Wrangell, and the like, the airport may be operating under reduced hours. Call your airline for information and sign up for alerts via text message or email.
What alternatives do you have?
Regroup and reroute; try driving the Alaska-Canada Highway (or AlCan) between Anchorage and the Lower 48; or, if you are originating in Anchorage and are looking for a glimpse of Southeast Alaska, Haines or Skagway, all reachable by car, or, to see Prince William Sound, travel the Richardson Highway to Valdez.
- Purchase a Milepost, the click-by-click guide to driving Alaska. Everything you need is within its hallowed pages.
- Consider renting an RV; we like Great Alaskan Holidays for their commitment to service. Everything from real-time reservations to itinerary suggestions are on their comprehensive website.
- Do a search here at AKontheGO for more ideas; flying in and out of Anchorage or Fairbanks might be your ticket to Alaska fun. And you can still have fun.
We’re leaving tomorrow evening; this trip is secure, but our next trip, and the next, are not so much.