Alaska Interstate ends photos

All of the following photos are my own, taken on my summer 2001 and 2007 vacations. Alaska's four Interstates (A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4) are completely unsigned. (The route numbers were originally approved without hyphens, as A1, A2, etc., but lately the Federal Highway Administration has been using hyphens in its route lists and other documents mentioning Alaska's Interstates, so I'll go with that.) 

As you can see below, Alaska's Interstates are not required to meet conventional Interstate standards (unlike the Interstates in the lower 48 and Hawaii), per Federal legislation enacted in 1980 which also let Puerto Rico get its own set of "paper Interstates." Indeed, almost all of Alaska's Interstate mileage is two-lane undivided highway with at-grade crossings, rather than Interstate-standard multilane divided controlled-access highway (though some of the Interstate mileage around Anchorage seems to meet or come close to normal Interstate standards).

I have consulted historical records relating to the designation of Alaska's Interstates, from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities ("Alaska DOT&PF"), and also the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, to identify the endpoints shown below.

NOTE: In case you want more detail, you can click any photo below to view an enlarged, higher-quality (less .jpg compression) version. Those alternate versions have larger file sizes, so please be patient while they download.

Interstate A-1
(Anchorage-Canadian border, via parts of state routes 1 and 2)

5th Street westbound @ Gambell Street in downtown Anchorage


Interstate A-1's west end is here in downtown Anchorage. This photo was taken from 5th Street (one-way, Interstate A-1 and Alaska 1 westbound) just east of its intersection with Gambell Street (one-way, Interstate A-3 southbound and Alaska 1 continuing southbound to the Seward Highway).
Overview of Alaska Highway crossing the border into Canada
The east end of Interstate A-1 is here, where the Alaska Highway (Alaska 2/Yukon 1) crosses into Canada. In the photo above, facing eastbound, the border crosses the highway diagonally, from a few feet on the other side of the sign on the left, through the exhibits and flags on the other side of the road. The photo to the right was taken on the border, facing south across the highway, to show the swath of clearcut through the forest which marks much of the international border between Alaska and the Yukon.

Both customshouses are set back from the border, with U.S. customs 0.3 miles to the west, and Canadian customs in Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory, about 20 miles to the southeast.

Alaska-Yukon border, from Alaska Highway

Interstate A-2
(Fairbanks-Tok Junction, via part of state route 2)

Richardson Highway, approaching junction with Mitchell Expressway
This is the interchange at the north end of the Richardson Highway in Fairbanks, where Interstate A-2/Alaska 2 northbound joins the Mitchell Expressway westbound (part of Interstate A-4/Alaska 3 southbound). Alaska 2 continues past the interchange (under the overpass barely visible near the left edge of the photo) as the Steese Expressway bypass through east Fairbanks, then as the Elliot Highway to Manley Hot Springs.

Note: An old Alaska DOT&PF map suggested that A-2 may technically still end about a mile north of this junction, at the intersection of the Steese Expressway and Airport Way, where A-4 (Alaska 3) used to end before it was rerouted to the Mitchell Expressway. I do not have any photos of that intersection. However, other sources (including Alaska DOT&PF's most recent online route log for the Richardson Highway) confirm that A-2's current end is at the junction shown above, specifically at the northbound exit ramp to the Mitchell Expressway.

Alaska Highway southbound, at junction with Tok Cut-Off
Tok Junction, from the southbound Alaska Highway (Alaska 2, continuing through the intersection) where it meets the Tok Cut-off (north end of Alaska 1) turning back toward Anchorage. Interstate A-2 ends here; Interstate A-1 follows the rest of the Alaska Highway, from the international border to this intersection, then continues west on the Tok Cut-off.

Interstate A-3
(Anchorage-Soldotna, via part of state route 1)

Ingra Street northbound @ 6th Avenue in downtown Anchorage
Interstate A-3's north end is here in downtown Anchorage. This photo was taken from Ingra Street (one-way, Interstate A-3 and Alaska 1 northbound) just south of its intersection with 6th Avenue (one-way eastbound, Interstate A-1 and Alaska 1 continuing to the Glenn Highway).
Sterling Highway southbound @ Kenai Spur Road
The south end of Interstate A-3 is here in Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula. This August 2007 photo is from Sterling Highway (Interstate A-3 southbound to this point, and also Alaska 1 southbound continuing beyond the intersection) where it intersects with unnumbered Kenai Spur Highway branching off to the right.

Interstate A-4
(Fairbanks-Palmer, via state route 3)

Mitchell Expressway eastbound, approaching exit signs for Steese Expressway, and Richardson Highway to North Pole and Delta Junction Ramp from Mitchell Expressway to Richardson Highway
Two photos of the north end of Interstate A-4 (Alaska 3), at the interchange with Interstate A-2/Alaska 2. The photo on the left is on A-4 northbound just before the northbound and southbound exit ramps diverge. (No, the exit sign isn't telling you to go south to the North Pole; "North Pole" is a heavily Christmas-themed suburb a few miles southeast of Fairbanks.) On the right is the Alaska 3 "end" sign on the ramp from A-4 northbound to A-2 southbound.
South end of George Parks Highway, at junction with Glenn Highway, with through lanes from the Parks to the westbound Glenn on the bridge to the left, the Glenn passing under that bridge, the ramp from the Parks to the eastbound Glenn in the center, and a frontage road to the right
The south end of Interstate A-4 (Alaska 3, Parks Highway), at its complex interchange with Interstate A-1 (Alaska 1, Glenn Highway) near Palmer, in July 2007. Alaska DOT&PF upgraded this junction in 2004. The through lanes on the left take traffic directly from the Parks Highway southbound to the Glenn Highway westbound. The official end of Interstate A-4 (and Alaska 3 and the Parks Highway) is at the beginning of the bridge on the left, which carries the through lanes over the Glenn Highway (there is no "end" sign southbound, but on the other side of that bridge, there is a "begin" sign confirming the change in state route number). In the center is the ramp from the southbound Parks Highway to the eastbound Glenn Highway toward Palmer. To the right of that ramp is a frontage road. In the distant background is the bridge carrying eastbound Glenn Highway traffic over the through lanes to the northbound Parks Highway (so eastbound Glenn Highway traffic exits and crosses over the freeway, then curls back under the freeway to continue to Palmer).

Alaska Roads main page (still under construction as of October 2007, but has some useful information and links)

Questions, comments? Please e-mail me.

© Oscar Voss 2001-2002, 2004, 2007.