Alaska Department of Transporation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)

The Seward City Council is asking the state Department of Transportation to find an alternative to closing the Silvertip Maintenance Station near the Hope junction on the Seward Highway. DOT announced the closure in late August, attributing it to a decline in motor fuel tax revenue and a $760,000 shortfall for the department.

The council at its last meeting directed City Manager Scott Meszaros to draft and send a letter to the state “relaying the importance of maintaining the Silvertip Maintenance Station for the residents of Seward and the surrounding community.”

The closure accompanies the elimination of five operator positions in the Central Region, contributing to an overall decline in snowplowing capacity.

“The closure and reduction in operator positions will affect our ability to respond to snow and ice events, in Turnagain Pass and throughout the region,” said department spokesperson Shannon McCarthy by email. “Crews will have further to travel to reach the area [formerly] covered by the Silvertip station.

“This will result in slower response times and reduced efficiency. Response to heavy snow events will be slower, however, the department is committed to providing the best response with the resources we have been given. When appropriate, we will authorize extended working hours during winter storms, for example.”

The cuts also include a reduction in general operating hours at other stations, the department said in a press release. Stations will now operate from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. The previous schedule had two ten-hour shifts, McCarthy said.

The Silvertip station served portions of the Seward and Sterling Highways that will now be covered by maintenance stations at Girdwood, Crown Point and Quartz Creek, McCarthy said. The Crown Point station will now be responsible for miles zero through 56 of the Seward Highway, with Girdwood picking up the rest.

Equipment that had been posted at the Silvertip station will be relocated to Crown Point and Quartz Creek.