George Parks Highway

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George Parks Highway
Robert J. Mitchell Expressway
Route information
Maintained by Alaska DOT&PF
Length: 323 mi (520 km)
Existed: 1970s – present
Major junctions
South end: AK-1 (Glenn Highway) in Gateway
  AK-8 (Denali Highway) in Cantwell
North end: AK-2 (Richardson Highway) in Fairbanks
Highway system
AK-2 AK-4

The George Parks Highway (numbered Interstate A-4 and Alaska Route 3), usually called simply the Parks Highway, runs 323 miles (520 km) from the Glenn Highway 35 miles (56 km) north of Anchorage to Fairbanks in the Alaska Interior. The highway, originally known as the Anchorage-Fairbanks Highway, was completed in 1971, and given its current name in 1975.

The Parks Highway, near Hurricane, Alaska.

The highway, which mostly parallels the Alaska Railroad, is one of the most important roads in Alaska. It is the main route between Anchorage and Fairbanks (Alaska's two largest metropolitan areas), the principal access to Denali National Park and Preserve and Denali State Park, and the main highway in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

It is a common misconception that the name "Parks Highway" comes from the road's proximity to the Denali state and national parks; it is in fact in honor of George Alexander Parks, governor of the Territory of Alaska from 1925 to 1933.[1] However, the aptness of the name was recognized when it was chosen.

Mileposts along the Parks Highway do not begin with 0 (zero). Instead, they begin with Mile 35 (km 56), continuing the milepost numbering of the Glenn Highway where the two highways intersect near Palmer. The 0 (zero) mile marker for the Glenn Highway is at its terminus in downtown Anchorage at the intersection of East 5th Avenue and Gambell Street. Thus mileposts along the Parks Highway reflect distance from Anchorage, which is not actually on the Parks Highway.

There are two sections of the highway that are built to freeway standards. These include an area near the highway's intersection with the Glenn Highway in Palmer and a stretch known as the Robert J. Mitchell Expressway in Fairbanks leading to the highway's junction with the Richardson Highway (AK 2).

Controversy[edit]

Former Alaska governor Tony Knowles criticized Sarah Palin for supporting the Knik Arm Bridge, the Gravina Island Bridge, and a road north out of Juneau instead of rebuilding the Parks Highway. However, the Ketchikan Daily News noted that, of the gubernatorial candidates, "Only Palin is consistent in support all of the projects."[2][3][4][5][6]

Exit list[edit]

The Parks Highway (right) as it passes through Wasilla. The multilane highway beginning in Anchorage ends a short distance west of this point.
The highway's bridge over Hurricane Gulch.
Milepost 238 signpost in McKinley Park. The signpost is located in a turnout adjacent to a bridge crossing the Nenana River and near the entrance to Denali National Park.
View of the Parks Highway in early autumn, looking northbound.
The northern terminus of the highway in Fairbanks. View looking eastbound from just west of the South Cushman Street overpass.

In the "Mile" column, the first number is the actual mileage of the Parks Highway, and the second mile is based on the mileposts along the highway itself.
All exits are unnumbered.

Borough Location Mile km Destinations Notes
Matanuska-Susitna Gateway 0.00–
35
0.00–
56
AK-1 south (Glenn Highway) Interchange, East end of Wasilla freeway section
Trunk Road Interchange
2.58–
37.58
4.15–
60.48
Fairview Loop / Hyer Road Interchange
Lakes Seward-Meridian Parkway Interchange
Wasilla 3.66–
38.66
5.89–
62.22
West end of Wasilla freeway section
Palmer-Wasilla Highway
Museum Drive To New Wasilla Airport
Houston Big Lake Road To Big Lake
Denali State Park Entering Denali State Park
Exiting Denali State Park
Denali Cantwell AK-8 east (Denali Highway) Western terminus of the Denali Highway
Denali National Park and Preserve Entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve
Fairbanks North Star College West end of Fairbanks freeway section
317.65–
352.62
511.21–
567.49
Geist Road / Chena Pump Road—University of Alaska Interchange
318.81–
353.81
513.07–
569.40
Airport Way west— Fairbanks International Airport Interchange; Beginning of the Robert Mitchell Expressway
318.81–
353.81
513.07–
569.40
Airport Way east Interchange; Southbound exit is via Old Airport Road
319.73–
354.73
514.56–
570.88
University Avenue
Fairbanks 321.94–
356.94
518.11–
574.44
Peger Road
322–
357.95
518–
576.06
Lathrop Street
Cushman Street / Old Richardson Highway Interchange; Northbound exit and southbound entrance; Access via 30th Avenue from northbound roadway and via 28th Avenue from southbound roadway
323–
358
520–
576
AK-2 (Richardson Highway) – North Pole, Delta Junction Interchange; Northbound exit and southbound entrance
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

External links[edit]