City assembly votes to shorten studded tire season

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Chalk it up to a changing climate: the Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance that would shorten the period the city allows studded tires to be on vehicles in the municipality.

Previously, the ordinance had Sept. 15 as the earliest date drivers were allowed to put studded tires on their vehicles. The new vote pushes that date back to Sept. 30, which advocates say better lines up with the current climate patterns.

"We all know that climate change is happening," said Assembly Member Austin Quinn-Davidson, who represents West Anchorage. "It didn't even snow until November this year. I think moving it from September 15 to September 30 is really not a problem."

Anchorage City Manager Bill Falsey previously told KTUU that the change could help save the city money in road repair costs, as studded tires tend to cause more roadway damage than summer tires.

"The snow doesn't seem to be falling until much later in the year,” Falsey said. “The ordinance simply looks to avoid an unnecessary amount of damage to the road system by syncing up our calendar with actual weather patterns."

An analysis by UAA that was cited by Falsey suggested the two-week change could save the state $3.2 million in road repair costs per year. The just-passed regulation only applies to the Municipality of Anchorage, but some are worried about how this will affect commuters from outside the city.

"There's a lot of concern that I'm hearing about," said Assembly Chair Felix Rivera, who represents Midtown. "We have over 30,000 people who commute every day from the Valley. How's this going to affect them?"

For now, Valley drivers will have to comply with the law, but those driving down from above the 62-degree latitude line, such as from Fairbanks, will be able to avoid being fined. The ordinance was also amended to exclude vehicles with a state-issued stud permit.

The ordinance was passed 6-3 on Tuesday evening.

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