ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Two Anchorage police officers will begin regular patrols of the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm, starting Oct. 1, 2017. Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll says the department received a $200,000 grant from the state, which made the extra enforcement possible.
Riding the rails-AK Railroad in Turnagain Arm - Rob Tappana
"It does take away from any patrol that we'd be doing in town, but I think the added benefit of having law enforcement on that stretch of the highway is worth it," Doll said. "And of course, the funding allows us to do that without actually taking away from funding inside the police service area, which I think is important. So overall, I think it's a positive thing."
In a news release, Mayor Ethan Berkowtiz praised the decision.
"Over the previous two years, the Legislature has cut 32 Alaska State Trooper positions," Berkowitz said. "We had to find a way for APD to fill the void along Turnagain Arm. As APD has grown, we found a way to fill that gap."
Doll says the officers will driver along the areas of the highway, between mile post 75 to 112, or McHugh Creek to Ingram Creek. Moreover, the department is looking to run patrols through March of 2018.
APD Deputy Communications Director Nora Morse adds, "Since this is temporary, we will continue to look for more permanent solutions to patrolling the highway."
"I think everybody realizes that traffic on that stretch of road can be problematic," Doll said. "So having regular law enforcement in the area, I think, is beneficial for public safety – for everybody that uses that stretch of highway."
The highway has been plagued by traffic wrecks for years, as the number of vehicles that drive between Anchorage and Seward increases.
According to the Department of Transportation, on average more than 10,000 vehicles use the road each day.