A state employee changes speed limit signs along the Sterling Highway. (Photos courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities)

A state employee changes speed limit signs along the Sterling Highway. (Photos courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities)

State ups speed limit on 20-mile stretch of Sterling Highway

The stretch of highway runs roughly between the two entrances of Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities upped the speed limit on roughly 20 miles of the Sterling Highway on Friday. Drivers can now go 65 mph — up from 55 mph — between mileposts 58 and 76 of the highway. Milepost 58 is located at the east end of Skilak Lake Road. Milepost 76 is located just past the road’s west end.

Alaska DOT&PF Administrative Operations Manager Justin Shelby said Friday that the change came out of an engineering study that recommended increasing the speed limit. Sixty-five mph, Shelby said, was found to be a “safe and reasonable speed” based on the conditions of the road.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining a highway’s speed limit, Shelby said, but limits of 65 mph generally apply to wide, straight roads with good visibility. That’s on top of the fact that most drivers are already going 65 mph or faster, which is something that is considered.

Shelby said the department is encouraging motorists to drive safely and to adjust for conditions such as weather. The affected stretch of highway runs through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, so drivers should keep an eye out for moose, caribou and other wildlife, Shelby said.

An interactive map of the Sterling Highway, including mile markers, can be accessed through Alaska 511 at 511.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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