USA: How Alaska fixed its earthquake-shattered roads in just days
By Mary Beth Griggs
Shaking from the large earthquake that shuddered through Anchorage, Alaska last week was strong enough to turn smooth asphalt roads into broken, jagged depressions of rubble. But within just a few days, crews managed to repair the worst of the damage, unsnarling traffic in Alaska’s largest city.
The 50th anniversary of the 1964 quake took place just four years ago, and officials took the opportunity to update their earthquake plans, hold drills, and generally prepare for when a quake would hit in the future. “I think that really helped,” [Shannon McCarthy, a spokesperson with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities] said.
Over the past six months, a less ground-shaking development also helped prepare the teams on the ground for that moment. In March, a truck slammed into a bridge on the only major road connecting Anchorage to one of its suburbs, shutting down the throughway for days. In the months after the collision, the Department of Transportation went through and updated its recovery plans in the event of another damaging incident.
All that preparation readied Alaska residents to spring into action as soon as the shaking from the initial quake subsided. Bridge inspectors based in Alaska’s capital, Juneau, packed and got on a plane that night. Arriving before midnight, they immediately started checking on the 243 bridges that had been impacted by the shaking. After checking in on damaged homes and offices, government employees and contractors within the quake zone also got to work, readying themselves to do a job that wouldn’t be easy during this time of year.