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State to test avalanche sensors along Seward Highway

The Alaska Department of Transportation will test an avalanche monitoring system at Mile 21 of the Seward Highway for the next couple of winters and hopes it will be successful enough to use throughout the road system. The Peninsula Clarion reports that the system can "sense and hear" avalanches and map their location; it generates an alert that's sent to highway workers.

The about $400,000 project is being funded by the Federal Highways Administration. Costs are preliminary, [DOT avalanche forecaster Matt] Murphy said. ...

Mile 21 is south of Crown Point and north of Primrose near the IRBI Knife Shop next to Kenai Lake. DOT staff regularly uses artillery to blast the area as part of mitigation efforts. But picking the right time to blast an area can be difficult, Murphy said.

"Most of the time that area is obscured with clouds so it is hard to track it," he said. "We don't do as good of a job managing that area as we do other areas. This technology will allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of avalanche activity down there so that we will be able to pick more pertinent times to go and shoot."

Read more at the Peninsula Clarion.