Skilak Lake Road, the gravel road that leads from the Sterling Highway to recreation areas at Bottenintinin, Skilak, Engineer, Lower Ohmer and Hidden lakes, was closed on Thursday morning by the Alaska Department of Transportation. According to a DOT press release, the road is “impassable due to wet and saturated surfaces.”
Although the road is scheduled to reopen Friday evening that closure could be extended, said Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Shannon McCarthy.
“We want to warn people that because they’re expecting rain, they’re not expecting the road to dry out quickly,” McCarthy said. “So it may take several days. We’ll continue to update the public on 511 (DOT’s road conditions webpage at 511.alaska.gov) and then tomorrow afternoon I’ll take a look at what’s going on and … we’ll issue another statement updating people on what its condition is.”
McCarthy said that the road is heavily affected by rain, groundwater, and snow melt. Currently DOT has sent bulldozers to flatten the road’s rutted surface before it dries, making ruts more difficult to level.
McCarthy said that DOT has considered adding gravel to the road if funding becomes available. The department applied for a grant approximately a year ago seeking such funding.
“Because it’s really a problem, especially when it becomes really wet … with rain, or if there’s melt-off,” McCarthy said. “There’s some problems. Once people start driving over it, it can get really rutty, and vehicles can get stuck. It is an on-going problem, and the department is seeking funding to fix it.”