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Alaska road crews quickly fix quake damage, shocking pothole-plagued lower 48

Alaska’s road construction crews are the envy of the nation.

After a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook Anchorage on Nov. 30, roadways in the area were left cracked, buckling and impassible in many spots. But only a handful of days later, repair crews have already made significant progress fixing the roads — bewildering residents of other states, where potholes and worse go unattended for weeks, months and even years.

The prime example of Alaska’s speedy roadwork might be an Anchorage highway off-ramp at Minnesota Boulevard and International Airport Road.

Alaska Tour & Travel, a vacation-planning company, posted two photos of the road on Facebook: One showing it destroyed after the Nov. 30 quake, and another showing it already looking good as new on Dec. 4. The state’s transportation department confirmed in an update that all lanes have reopened on the ramps headed north and south. SFGate and the Anchorage Daily News also reported the road had been reopened.

Jealous Facebook users from outside Alaska were quick to comment — and usually to criticize their own states.

“It would take California years to get this done,” one wrote on the post, which had been shared more than 8,000 times within hours.

Even more impressive, Alaska is undertaking the roadwork in the thick of winter, when most road construction across the country — even in frigid Alaska — is put on hold.

“It’s harder to pave in the winter and it uses more resources, but when it needs to be done, we know how to do it right,” the state department of transportation wrote on Twitter. “Alaska’s contractors are experienced and they are dedicated to repairing the asphalt surfaces damaged by this quake.”

The transportation department explained that cold-weather repairs will require crews to add chemicals while mixing asphalt to lower the temperature it can be compacted at. Crews will use asphalt at hotter temperatures, layer it thicker so it doesn’t cool too fast and cover asphalt loads with a tarp to keep them warm. Crews will also pave non-stop, the transportation department said, using many large rollers to speed up the process.

The state said some repairs are temporary fixes, made until permanent fixes can be completed when it’s warmer.

Alaskans were understandably proud.

“Fantastic progress,” the Anchorage Police Department wrote on Facebook, sharing the photo.

Another Alaskan confirmed the post was real.

“Not fake,” he wrote, sharing another picture. “We call it Alaskan!”

Responses from jealous outsiders ranged from desperate pleas for pothole help to angry condemnations of their own states’ road operations.

“Can your construction workers for the roads come to Ohio?” one asked, adding that it “takes years for these jokers to fix roads.”

Another tagged the Texas transportation department Facebook page on the photo, and asked why Interstate 35 has “been under construction for as long as I’ve been alive?”

But not everyone was buying the side-by-side photos showing the quick repair.

“There is no way they could get this road repaired that quickly!” a skeptical Facebook user wrote. “I’ve worked in road construction and it would take at least 4 days to dig out the old road material and get it hauled away.”

Alaskans commented and convinced her it was real.

“You guys must have superhuman road construction workers!” she said in response. “Send some south to the Midwest.”

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