ROADS IN ALASKA & CANADA
As you can see, there are very few major roads in Alaska, as compared with
most other states.
The major routes of the highway system are shown above and the map
below offers a close-up of the Interior and South-Central areas.
You will notice that both Western and Southeastern Alaska can not be
reached very well by road. Even the state capital, Juneau, located in Southeastern Alaska,
is not accessible by highway. You can just imagine the problems that causes!
Want to see a huge beautiful
(click here) map? This
one is from the Alaska
Travel Industry Association. Here is a the piece of it that shows
There are attempts nearly every year to move the capital somewhere else
with better access, usually to the Anchorage area. Lawmakers are often stranded for days
when weather is bad and they cannot fly in or out of Juneau. In recent years there has
been talk of building a road to Juneau, but so far the logistics of a road through the
high mountains surrounding Juneau have made that impractical.
You can see, from the map below, why
Fairbanksans believe they are at the end of the Alaska Highway,
even though its name changes to the Richardson.
Some freight comes up the Alaska Highway, but much that is
bound for the interior is shipped first to the port of Anchorage, and then trucked to
Fairbanks over the Parks Highway. Some freight is brought to Fairbanks by the Alaska
Railroad, whose route generally follows the Parks Highway.
Incidentally, learn the names of the highways
you drive on (see above); most Alaskans will not know what you
are talking about if you use numbers, like Highway 3,
Extensive use of barge and ferry service is made in Southeastern Alaska
because only three southeastern communities (Haines, Skagway, and Hyder) are connected to
Alaskan or Canadian highways.
There are two ferry networks on the Alaska Marine Highway. One covers
Southeastern Alaska, connecting to Bellingham, Washington, and the other covering
South-central Alaska from Cordova to Dutch Harbor.
During the summer, barges also take supplies to interior villages along the
major rivers. They carry some freight to the northern coast of Alaska in the summer, but
sea ice drastically shortens the barge season.