The speed limit on a segment of the Richardson Highway has been reduced for the duration of an Interior Alaska military exercise, three days after a collision involving a tanker tractor-trailer and a U.S. Army vehicle along the same stretch of road.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said that the temporary speed limit of 55 mph, 10 mph lower than the area's usual 65 mph, was prompted by numerous military convoys moving through the area and wasn't a direct result of Monday's crash.
The DOT said on its Facebook page Thursday that the speed reduction would apply to the stretch of highway from Mile 245 north to Delta Junction at Mile 266, and was linked to the Army's Arctic Anvil exercises.
"This is linked just because there's such high movement of troops," Bailey said. "They're so slow-moving that it's noticeable."
The collision, which occurred near the highway's intersection with Meadows Road in the Fort Greely area, was reported at about 8 a.m. Monday, according to an Alaska State Troopers dispatch posted online.
Troopers said the tractor-trailer, which was hauling fuel and headed north on the Richardson, was driven by 54-year-old Wasilla resident Michael Shepard. It was traveling behind and attempted to pass the "slow moving" Army vehicle, an eight-wheeled Stryker armored personnel carrier.
U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said that the Stryker's driver, 22-year-old Pfc. Zachary Ribera, is assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright. The Stryker being driven by Ribera was one vehicle in a convoy en route to the Donnelly Training Area near Fort Greely.
"(Ribera) initiated his turn into Meadows Road and stopped when he was made aware he was being passed by the semi truck," troopers wrote. "The Stryker was partially in the oncoming lane and the truck driver collided with the Stryker and subsequently went into the ditch and then the trees."
Troopers said no injuries were reported in the crash, and no fuel was spilled from the tractor-trailer. Photos posted to the Delta Wind newspaper's website showed the truck, hauling two tankers, off in the treeline on one side of the highway.
Pennell said Arctic Anvil involves an estimated 8,000 soldiers and support personnel.
The 55 mph speed limit will remain in place until Aug. 8, according to the DOT. No charges have been filed in the Monday collision.