State Route 2 in Alaska
State Route 2 is a state route in the U.S. state of Alaska. The road connects Tanana, Fairbanks and the border with Canada. The route southeast of Fairbanks is part of the Alaska Highway. State Route 2 is 808 kilometers long.
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State Route 2 begins on the bank of the Yukon River near the hamlet of Tanana and heads east from here as a poorly developed gravel road to the hamlet of Manley Hot Spings, nearly 60 kilometers east, on the Tanana River. The road then leads 120 kilometers to the east through unpopulated wilderness. Nearby are low mountain ridges up to approximately 1,300 meters. This part up to Livengood is unpaved. Near the hamlet of Livengood, the Elliot Highway joins State Route 11, the Dalton Highway to the north.
From Livengood the road turns to the southeast and leads through a low mountain range. The road is often quite winding, but there is virtually no traffic. From Livengood the road is asphalted. State Route 6 joins in Fox, just north of the town of Fairbanks.
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From Fox to Fairbanks the road is called the Steese Highway. This part of the road has mostly 2×2 lanes and is a divided highway. The road then passes through the center of the town of Fairbanks and joins State Route 3 at a grade separated junction.
From Fairbanks to Delta Junction, the road is called the Richardson Highway, which continues south to the coast at Valdez. The first section at Fairbanks is still a 2×2 divided highway, but further southeast the road is single carriageway. The road leads through wilderness through the valley of the Tanana River. Occasionally there is a village on the route. At Delta Junction, the Richardson Highway turns south and follows State Route 4 south.
From Delta Junction, State Route 2 is part of the Alaska Highway. The road runs along a mountain range with glaciers, but itself remains in a relatively flat area. One then reaches the village of Tok, where State Route 1 from Anchorage ends. From Tok, the road continues south-east through a very remote area. Most villages on the route consist of only a few houses. One eventually reaches the border with Canada, with Yukon. The Alaska Highway then continues southeast to Whitehorse.
The Alaska Highway between Tok and Delta Junction.
The Alaska Highway between Delta Junction and the Canadian border was completed in 1942 and was the first road link to the state of Alaska. At the time, the road was 2,700 kilometers long and largely runs in Canada.
The route between Fairbanks and Delta Junction was important in the early 20th century due to the gold rush around Fairbanks and the road was converted to railcars in 1910 and then converted to motor vehicles in the 1920s. This then became a toll road. In the 1990s, the road just outside Fairbanks was widened to 2×2 lanes to provide better access to Eielson Air Force Base.
The Elliott Highway to Manley Hot Springs was completed in 1959. This road turns off the more famous Dalton Highway and leads through remote wilderness. There is no telephone reception in the area and the road is difficult to drive in winter. Very little traffic uses this road.
Between July 2014 and August 2016, the road was extended 55 kilometers west to the Yukon River at Tanana. This extension as a narrow and poorly developed gravel road opened to traffic on August 29, 2016. Construction cost $13.7 million. To reach Tanana one has to cross the Tanana River by boat in summer or ice road in winter.
A connection from Manley Hot Springs to Nome has been considered since the 1950s. Nome is located on the west coast of Alaska, not far from Russia and not yet accessible by road. Tanana is the westernmost point that can be reached by road. The missing part is 750 kilometers long. Construction has been continuously delayed due to the high cost of several billion dollars and the very limited use of this connection.
However, as a first phase in 2014-2016, a gravel road was built over 55 kilometers from Manley Hot Springs to just before Tanana, at the confluence of the Yukon and Tanana Rivers.
Only 40 vehicles run daily between Manley Hot Springs and the Dalton Highway at Livengood. The section between Livengood and Fox has about 500 to 1,200 vehicles.
The part through Fairbanks has a maximum of 28,000 vehicles per day. Every day 350 vehicles cross the border into Canada. There are 1,800 vehicles in Tok. Outside Tok, there are usually 400 vehicles per day.