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Glenn Highway Reopens, Police Urge Caution on Roads

Published On: Dec 05 2013 05:45:00 AM AKST   Updated On: Dec 05 2013 02:57:00 PM AKST

Slick roads and dangerous conditions bring the Glenn Highway to a close and put drivers on edge. 


Updated: 9:00 p.m.

The northbound lanes of the Glenn Highway south of Eagle River are back open, after being shut down for three hours Thursday afternoon.   The commute outbound from Anchorage was slower than normal due to icy conditions.

"It took about 90 minutes to get from South Anchorage to Eagle River," said commuter Shawn Summers.

Slick roads kept police officers busy most of the afternoon.

"We responded as of this evening, to about 90 vehicles in distress, a little over 45 accidents, several accidents involving injuries," said Anchorage Police Department Spokesperson Jennifer Castro.

Both APD and Alaska State Troopers say response times could vary depending on how busy officers are with responding to other accidents.

Several meetings were also postponed due to the weather, including a hearing on a proposed charter school in Anchorage and a town hall meeting on public safety in Wasilla.

The University of Alaska Anchorage and state offices in Southcentral Alaska also announced closures Thursday afternoon, following the lead of all Anchorage schools and most Mat-Su Borough schools set earlier in the day.

While UAA had remained open Thursday morning, spokesperson Jessica Hamlin says in a statement that classes are closing as of 12:45 p.m., with more information about specific closures available on UAA's website.

"Afternoon and evening events are also canceled, with the exception of the women's basketball game due to GNAC league requirements," Hamlin wrote.

Anchorage School District spokesperson Heidi Embley announced the decision to close local schools just before 6 a.m. Thursday, citing continuing weather conditions.

"The district has been monitoring conditions all morning and initially decided the conditions were passable," Embley wrote in a statement. "However, rain has caused the roads to progressively worsen and Superintendent Ed Graff made the call to close in the interest of safety."

Camp Fire Alaska, which provides before and after-school programs at ASD schools, is operating at limited locations Thursday according to its website.

"Camp Fire programs are OPEN at our normal Snow Day sites: Denali, Homestead, Lake Otis, Sand Lake and Spring Hill elementary schools ONLY," officials wrote.

Anchorage's People Mover bus service was suspended as of noon Thursday due to poor conditions, with hourly monitoring to determine when it will resume. Buses had continued to operate Thursday with possible delays, although AnchorRIDES had already decided to operate essential trips only.

According to the Mat-Su Borough School District's website, five of its schools remain open Thursday: Trapper Creek, Talkeetna and Willow elementary schools, Glacier View K-12 School and Su Valley Junior/Senior High.

“Only these five schools are open,” district officials wrote. “Other MSBSD schools are closed.”

Officials at Charter College's Anchorage and Wasilla campuses, as well as Grace Christian School in Anchorage, also announced closures Thursday.

All Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools are open Thursday, but a post on the district's Facebook page urges parents to take weather into account when deciding whether to send children to class.

"Please use your best judgment about safety and weather conditions in your neighborhood," district officials wrote. "When school remains open, and you choose to keep your child at home, please simply call the school to tell them."

The closures come nearly two weeks after freezing rain paralyzed much of Southcentral Alaska Nov. 22, with a school bus sliding off Edlund Road in Wasilla and causing minor injuries to the driver and a few students on board. In Facebook comments on Channel 2's coverage, many viewers blasted the Anchorage and Mat-Su districts for not deciding to close schools that day.

This is a developing story. Please check and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.

Channel Two's Adam Pinsker contributed to this report.