Glenn Highway reopens after 37 vehicles crash on Knik River bridges, injuring 13

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A State of Alaska road camera image shows backed-up southbound traffic near the Glenn Highway’s second Knik River bridge shortly after 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (From Alaska DOTPF)

Alaska State Troopers say the Glenn Highway has reopened Thursday near the Knik River bridges, after a series of collisions involving 37 vehicles that injured more than a dozen people and closed the highway for hours.

Troopers initially said on social media Thursday morning that the Glenn’s southbound lanes were closed at the Parks/Glenn highway interchange after a collision near Reflections Lake and the bridges, which mark a jurisdictional line between troopers and Anchorage police.

In an online dispatch Thursday afternoon, troopers said the crashes were first reported at 10:35 a.m., after a southbound vehicle braked hard to avoid hitting the vehicle before it.

“The braking vehicle lost traction on the icy bridge and began spinning,” troopers said in the dispatch. “Another vehicle in the same southbound lane then collided with the spinning vehicle. There was dense fog at the time of the collision, with only one vehicle-length of visibility. Nearly a dozen vehicles continued to collide with the initially involved vehicles.  With the limited visibility, additional vehicles then began a chain reaction of rear-end collisions, in trying to avoid hitting one another.”

The Glenn was initially closed in both directions during troopers’ response, according to the dispatch. Troopers spokesman Justin Freeman said northbound lanes had reopened as of 1:15 p.m. Thursday, he said, with the highway fully reopened by 2:15 p.m.

Ken Barkley, the Mat-Su Borough’s director of emergency services, said Thursday afternoon that medics took 13 people to area hospitals after the collisions with injuries, none of them life-threatening. He said sunlight hitting ice fog led to very poor visibility around the bridges, which remained icy at midday amid subzero temperatures during a continuing cold snap this week.

“It was ice fog and just the ice on the bridges,” Barkley said.

Traffic was being diverted to the Old Glenn Highway during the closures, with southbound traffic sent that way through Palmer.

Troopers are asking anyone involved in the collisions who hasn’t been interviewed by police or troopers to call crash investigators at 907-352-5401.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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