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Alaska Road System

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 Fairbanks:

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.

 Close-Up of Major Roads

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, etc.

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.


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