The longest ever ice road has been plowed on the Kuskokwim River, from Tuntutuliak to Sleetmute
For the first time ever, the ice road on the frozen Kuskokwim River has been plowed to Sleetmute, a village north of Bethel. It’s the longest ice road yet. According to Mark Leary, who helped lead the effort, the ice road now stretches about 355 miles from Tuntutuliak, located south of Bethel, to Sleetmute.
That’s longer than most traditional highways in the state, but it’s likely a bit rougher in places given that the road is a frozen river. The previous record was about 200 miles from Bethel to Crooked Creek in March 2018. The ice road allows for snowmachine and vehicle traffic in a region that otherwise relies on unpredictable airplane travel in the winter.
Tim Zaukar manages the roads for the village of Crooked Creek, and helped plow the ice road to Sleetmute. He says that before the road was put in, the snow and rough ice made it hard for people to travel to other villages and to get medical aid and food supplies.
“I don’t think they really thought we would make it there, and we did, and I think a lot of people were surprised,” Zaukar said.