Alaska Roads - AK 1

AK 1
Interstates A3 and A1
Sterling, Seward, Glenn, and Alaska Highways

Interstate A3 is designated from Kenai along AK 1, past the AK 9 junction into Anchorage (AK 9 leads to Seward, and the Seward Highway runs up AK 9 into AK 1 - one number highway may be on several different Highways). After several miles of freeway, it ends in city center as a one-way pair. If you turn right onto another one-way pair, you find yourself at the beginning of Interstate A1, which runs through another 25 or so miles of freeway before following AK 1 eastward toward Tok Junction. A1 then follows AK 2 to the Yukon Territory, Canada border. There is not enough through traffic to warrant a freeway connection between I-A1 and I-A3 around the east side of Anchorage, though there is certainly room to do so, and if it were done, the highway could be signed as an Interstate. I, for one, would like to see that happen.

AK 9 NB at AK 1, in the middle of nowhere. Alaska has a lot of nowhere.

NB on Ingra Street at 6th Avenue for the first photo, and WB on 5th Avenue at Gambell Street for the second photo. If you didn't guess by now, these are respectively the ends of I-A3 and I-A1 at each other. It is interesting to note that there is an H-named street between Gambell and Ingra, and that the progression goes down to a B-named street. Suddenly, the next street isn't A-named, just A Street. Then B Street, etc., as far as L, before the seaside gets in the way. Southward, there is at least a 180th Street, several miles to the south. Anchorage proper is a huge city, most of which is unpopulated and untouched by roads.

SB/WB on AK 1/I-A1, the Glenn Highway, northeast of Anchorage, this sign is here to show off a phenomenon I like to call gravel bullets. All of the older signs along the I-A1 freeway north of Anchorage, as well as the I-A3 (Seward Highway) freeway to the south, have a lot of dents and holes where the reflective backing has been dinged away. It looks like the effect of bullet holes, but I am more inclined to believe small rocks are being kicked up off the highway, carried from the expansive gravel highway network of Alaska down the paved road and then let loose (or maybe I'm just trying to give the benefit of the doubt to overzealous hunters during their off season). Also, notice the terminology I used at the beginning of this paragraph - SB/WB. On 6th Street EB, there is an assembly saying to go straight for EAST AK 1 and right for SOUTH AK 1. To confuse matters, at the beginning of the I-A1 freeway, there is a NORTH 1 reassurance shield, and then AK 1 turns east/west for good after AK 3. In my opinion, the I-A1/I-A3 intersection is a fine place to change directions, but that change should stay permanent, not revert. Oh, and if you REALLY want to be confused, there are also EAST and WEST 1 shields along the I-A1 freeway. So you really have no clue whether it's E-W or N-S, and AKDOT might not either.

NB on the Glenn Highway at the Parks Highway, or NB on AK 1 at AK 3, or NB on I-A1 at I-A4. Construction of this interchange, appropriately named Glenn Parks, is progressing nicely, with the AK 1 WB-SB ramp still to go as of summer 2004 but due for an October completion. October is a good date to be done by, because snow settles in by November and stays until late April. New concrete structures at this interchange have metal wildlife on them, which is being done elsewhere in the area as well.

Thanks to the construction, AK 1 WB-SB traffic in summer 2004 was diverted north on AK 3 to the Trunk Road (AK 3 BUSINESS, the only business route in Alaska) exit. The AK 3 SB-AK 1 EB movement is a diamond ramp, and may be permanent as the only non-freeflow movement of the interchange. Now, can you tell me what's wrong with the sign? If you said "1 North doesn't go that way!", you'd win a basket of citrus fruit! Yes, that's supposed to be an AK 3 shield, and three identical advance signs on AK 1 WB have it right. Now, if it said 1 SOUTH, and listed Anchorage and either Seward, Kenai, or Howard as destinations, then I'd tell you to shut up.

Old alignment of an old alignment! This is on the Old Glenn Highway, which ran far to the east around an inlet rather than bridge it like the current freeway, and bypasses the Glenn Parks interchange by several miles. The old steel bridge looks like it's in good shape, and is there for pedestrians, bicycles, and presumably the occasional grizzly bear (grizzlies are inland brown bears, coastal browns are, well, you know).

Onto AK 3
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