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Seward Highway

Seward Highway
Map of
Seward Highway highlighted in red
Route information
Length: 125.336 mi[1] (201.709 km)
Existed: 1923[2] – present
AK-9 Seward to Moose Pass
AK-1 Moose Pass to Anchorage
Seward Highway
Major junctions
South end: Railway Avenue in Seward

Forest Highway 46 (Herman Leirer Road) in Bear Creek
Forest Highway 61 (Primrose Spur Road)
AK-1 (Sterling Highway)
Forest Highway 14 (Hope Highway)
Forest Highway 35 (Portage Glacier Highway)

Minnesota Drive Expressway
North end: East 5th Avenue in Anchorage
Boroughs: Kenai Peninsula, Municipality of Anchorage
Highway system

AK-98 AK-1 AK-2
AK-8 AK-9 AK-10

The Seward Highway is a highway in the U.S. state of Alaska that extends 125 miles (201 km) from Seward to Anchorage. It was completed in 1951 and runs through the scenic Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Turnagain Arm, and Kenai Mountains. The Seward Highway is numbered Alaska Route 9 (AK-9) for the first 37 miles (60 km) from Seward to the Sterling Highway, and AK-1 for the remaining distance to Anchorage. At the junction with the Sterling Highway, AK-1 turns west towards Sterling and Homer. About eight miles (13 km) of the Seward Highway leading into Anchorage is built to freeway standards. In Anchorage, the Seward Highway terminates at an intersection with 5th Avenue, which AK-1 is routed to, and which then leads to the Glenn Highway freeway.

The first portion of the Seward Highway was completed in 1923, and the highway was finished on October 9, 1951. The entire course of the highway was paved in 1952. In 1989, the highway was designated as a scenic byway by the U.S. Forest Service. The state of Alaska added the highway to its byway system in 1993, and in 2000 it was designated as an All-American Road, or National Scenic Byway.


  • Route description 1
    • Seward to Bear Creek 1.1
    • Chugach National Forest 1.2
    • Girdwood to Anchorage 1.3
  • History 2
  • U.S. Bicycle Route 97 3
  • Major intersections 4
  • Related Route 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Route description

The full length of the Seward Highway has been listed on the National Highway System (NHS),[3] a network of roads important to the country's economy, defense, and mobility.[4] The segment designated AK-9 between Seward and Tern Lake Junction is part of the STRAHNET subsystem,[3] highways that are important to defense policy and which provide defense access, continuity and emergency capabilities for defense purposes.[4] The remainder that follows AK-1 is also designated Interstate A-1 (A-1) and included in the NHS on that basis.[3] The state's Interstate Highways are not required to comply with Interstate Highway standards,[5] instead "shall be designed in accordance with such geometric and construction standards as are adequate for current and probable future traffic demands and the needs of the locality of the highway" under federal law.[6] The highway is maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (Alaska DOT&PF), and the A-1 designation is not signed along the highway.[7] In 2010, 2,520 vehicles used the highway near the junction with Sterling Highway in a measure of the annual average daily traffic, the lowest tally along the highway. The highest traffic count as recorded by Alaska DOT&PF was 58,799 vehicles daily at the Dowling Road overpass in Anchorage.[1] In 2012, Life Magazine included the Seward Highway in its list of Most Scenic Drives in the World.

Seward to Bear Creek

An aerial view of Seward and vicinity, including Bear Creek. The southern end of the Seward Highway runs through the center of the photo.

The Seward Highway begins at an intersection with Railway Avenue, in Seward, Alaska, less than 100 yards (91 m) from the Gulf of Alaska. At this point, the Seward Highway is two lanes, with a parking lane on each side. The Seward Highway is designated as AK-9 at this point of the route. The highway continues through central Seward, passing several small businesses, houses, the Seward Museum, as well as several hotels and motels. The highway continues past the Seward Airport, before entering the unincorporated community of Bear Creek, Alaska.[8] Just after entering Bear Creek, a series of tracks belonging to the Alaska Railroad comes alongside the roadway. These railroad tracks continue on with the Seward Highway until Crown Point, return near a junction with the Portage Glacier Highway, and remain until the highway becomes a freeway, in southern Anchorage. The Seward Highway proceeds through central Bear Creek, passing Bear Lake, until entering Chugach National Forest.[9]

Chugach National Forest

Seward Highway, in Chugach National Forest, approaching a snow-capped mountain range

The Seward Highway enters the Chugach National Forest just five miles (8.0 km) after its start. The highway enters Chugach while it is still part of the Bear Creek community, so it gives the appearance of still being inside the CDP. After a mile or so (1.6 km), though, the area surrounding the highway begins to look more like a national forest. The Alaska Railroad weaves back and forth under the highway, which causes the highway to become a series of small bridges. For a few miles after the bridges, the Seward Highway is a four-lane road, but then merges into two. After passing through about 10 miles (16 km) of forest, the highway passes Primrose Spur Road, and enters Primrose, Alaska. For the next five or so miles (8 km), the route runs alongside Kenai Lake. Just before peeling off of Kenai Lake, the route passes though Crown Point, passes the single runway Lawling airport, and provides access to a large campground. The highway runs alongside the Trail River for about six miles (9.7 km), before passing the settlement of Moose Pass. The road continues, passing along Upper Trail Lake for a few miles, before peeling off and returning to the dense forest, and passing a large mountain range. After a few miles, the road passes the community of Tern Lake Junction, and intersects with Alaska Route 1 (AK-1), where Alaska Route 9 terminates, and the Seward Highway is designated to AK-1.[10]

After that, for several miles, the roadway continues through large, Alaskan pine forests. After approximately 10 miles (16 km), the highway passes Summit Lake, and provides access to another large campground. The road then continues through a large mountain range on either side of the highway. After about eight miles (13 km), the route intersects the Hope Highway, which provides access to the city of Hope, Alaska, and the highway reenters forest. The roadway continues though forest for a brief period, and again enters the mountains. The route continues through the mountains for about 24 miles (39 km) more, before reaching the Turnagain Arm, and intersecting the Portage Glacier Highway. At this point, the Alaska railroad tracks again come alongside the route. The highway continues through the National Forest for approximately eight miles (13 km), passing the Turnagain arm to the west, and the Kenai Mountains to the east. It then exits the Chugach National Forest, having spent approximately 72 miles (116 km) inside the boundaries of Chugach National Forest.[8]

Girdwood to Anchorage

Wintertime view of the Seward Highway at mile 97 (km 156), looking northbound as it passes through Bird. The Chugach Mountains are in the background. The Alaska Railroad tracks are to the left of the highway.
Seward Highway (left) looking southbound along the Turnagain Arm stretch.
Aerial view of the highway as it passes through Bird, looking southbound, showing a larger area than the photo at top. Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains are in the background.

After the highway exits the national forest, it continues for about five miles (8.0 km) through pine forest, before passing through the unincorporated community of Girdwood. After about a mile, the highway enters Chugach State Park. The road continues through forest for about 10 miles (16 km), before passing the small, unincorporated skiing village of Bird. The route reenters the park for about a mile, before entering the village of Indian, and then reentering the forest. The Seward Highway passes along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska for about 12 miles (19 km), with the Kenai Mountains running along the northern side. The highway then proceeds to enter the city limits of Anchorage. The highway intersects Old Seward Road, before becoming a four-lane freeway. The freeway's first exit is, in fact, for Old Seward Road. The freeway continues past several neighborhoods, a plant nursery, and Rabbit Creek Elementary School.

At an exit for De Armoun Road, the highway's frontage road begins. The freeway continues past dozens of neighborhoods, a few small businesses, and provides exits for a few small roads, including the Minnesota Drive Expressway. After the exit for Abbott Road, part of the frontage road terminates. The route then passes through a more commercial area of Anchorage, passing several warehouses.[8] At the freeway's final exit, for Tudor Road, the rest of the frontage roads either begin or terminate. The freeway ends at the highways intersection with East 36th Avenue. About a half a mile (1 km) later, the highway splits into Ingra Street (northbound), and Gambell Street (southbound). The Seward Highway officially reaches its northern terminus at an intersection with 5th Avenue.[11][12] AK-1 continues on for a short period as 5th Avenue, before becoming known as the Glenn Highway.


The southern terminus of the Seward Highway in 1959, as seen from aboard a ship docked at the Seward Harbor (which was moved following the 1964 earthquake).
Near Bird Point
Summit Lake

An 18-mile-long (29 km) stretch of the Seward Highway, traveling from Seward to Kenai Lake was completed in 1923. Another segment of the highway, running between Moose Pass and Hope, was completed in 1928. The Mile 18 bridge, nicknamed "The Missing Link", which would connect the Seward and Moose Pass portions, was not completed until 1946, which was a major cause of the delayed completion of the highway.[2] The roadway was completed on October 19, 1951,[13] connecting people Seward to the major city of Anchorage by road for the first time (the city was previously reached by sea, rail, or air).[2] The entire length of the highway was paved in 1952.[13] During the 1964 Alaska earthquake, about 20 miles (32 km) of the Seward Highway sank below the high-water mark of Turnagain Arm; the highway and its bridges were raised and rebuilt in 1964-66.

The highway was designated a National Forest Scenic Byway by the U.S. Forest Service on September 8, 1989. Later, the State of Alaska added it to the State Scenic Byway system on January 29, 1993. The final designation was added on June 15, 2000, when the Seward Highway was named an All-American Road as part of the National Scenic Byway program by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.[14] The length of the highway traveling from the AK-1 and AK-9 intersection to the northern terminus is designated as Interstate A-3 by the National Highway System.[3]

U.S. Bicycle Route 97

United States Bicycle Route 97 is a U.S. Bicycle Route located along Alaska Route 1. The bike route runs alongside the Seward Highway along the entire length of the highway. The bike route was created in 2011.[15][16]

Major intersections

All exits are unnumbered.

Borough Location mi[1] km Destinations Notes
Kenai Peninsula Seward 0.000 0.000 Railway Avenue Southern terminus of Seward Highway and of AK-9
0.650 1.046 A Street
1.468 2.363 Port Avenue
Bear Creek 3.267 5.258 Nash Road
3.768 6.064 Herman Leirer Road
(formerly Exit Glacier Road)
6.667 10.729 Bear Lake Road
Primrose 16.970 27.311 Primrose Spur Road
Moose Pass 28.845 46.422 Depot Road
32.125 51.700 Southern trailhead, Johnson Pass Trail
AK-1 (Sterling Highway)
AK-9 south
Northern terminus of AK-9; Seward Highway assumes the AK-1 designation northbound; highway divides at Sterling Highway intersection
  45.367 73.011 Summit Lake Lodge
  55.729 89.687 Hope Highway Southern terminus of Hope Highway
  67.461 108.568 Turnagain Pass—highway divides
  74.341 119.640 Ingram Creek bridge
Municipality of Anchorage 78.040 125.593 Portage Glacier Highway Western terminus of Portage Glacier Highway
79.566 128.049 Alaska Railroad Portage siding
89.322 143.750 Alyeska Highway to Crow Creek Road South end of Alyeska Highway
100.016 160.960 Sawmill Road
103.064 165.865 Indian Road
110.863 178.417 McHugh Creek Campground Road
114.493 184.259 Potter Valley Road
116.782 187.942 East 154th Avenue
116.782 187.942 South end of freeway
117.175 188.575 Old Seward Highway
Rabbit Creek Road
117.656 189.349 De Armoun Road Southbound exit and northbound entrance; southern end of Brayton Drive frontage road
118.771 191.143 Huffman Road
119.803 192.804 O'Malley Road/Minnesota Drive Southern terminus of O'Malley Road/Minnesota Drive
121.314 195.236 East Dimond Boulevard
Abbott Road
Southern end of Homer Drive frontage road
122.018 196.369 East 76th Avenue
Lore Road
Southbound exit and northbound entrance
122.816 197.653 East Dowling Road
123.821 199.271 East Tudor Road Northern end of Brayton Drive and Homer Drive frontage roads
124.363 200.143 East 36th Avenue Northern end of freeway, southern end of expressway
124.752 200.769 East Benson Boulevard One way eastbound
124.877 200.970 East Northern Lights Boulevard One way westbound
125.059 201.263 East Fireweed Lane
125.336 201.709 AK-1 north (Gambell Street / Ingra Street) / East 20th Avenue Northern end of expressway and AK-1 concurrency; Continuation of AK-1 splits into a one-way pair to downtown Anchorage
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Related Route

Old Seward Highway
Location: Anchorage
Length: 7.943 mi[1] (12.783 km)
Existed: 1951–present[13]

The Old Seward Highway is an approximately 8 miles (13 km) long former routing of the Seward Highway. The road is located entirely within Anchorage, with a southern terminus near the Rabbit Creek neighborhood, and a northern terminus in the Midtown neighborhood. Both of the highways termini are points on the Seward Highway. The highway was created in 1951, along with most of the Seward Highway.

The Old Seward Highway begins at an intersection with the Seward Highway near the neighborhood of Rabbit Creek, in southern Anchorage. The route runs northward, concurrently named as Rabbit Creek Road. The route separates from Rabbit Creek Road, traveling northwest over the New Seward Highway and through the neighborhood of Oceanview. The route bends north, running parallel to the New Seward Highway. The roadway intersects Minnesota Drive/O'Malley Road, and continues northward through the Campbell/Taku neighborhood. The road proceeds north into Midtown, traveling through the neighborhood to the highway's northern terminus, an intersection with 34th Avenue.[17] An exit ramp from the New Seward Highway serves as the beginning of the southbound lanes.[18]

The Old Seward Highway was created in 1951, as part of the original routing of the Seward Highway.[13] Beginning in 1976, the state of Alaska designated three projects to reroute a large portion of the Seward Highway. This rerouting would bypass the section of the highway that is now the Old Seward Highway. The final portion of the rerouting was completed in early June of 1998.[19]

The Old Seward Highway has a short, 2.3 miles (3.7 km) long spur road that connects Potter Valley Road to the highway.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Witt, Jennifer W. (2010). Annual Traffic Volume Report (PDF) (Report) (2008-2009-2010 ed.).  
  2. ^ a b c Seward Historic Preservation Commission. "Community History and Character". Seward History. City of Seward. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d National Highway System: Alaska (PDF) (Map).  
  4. ^ a b Adderley, Kevin (April 4, 2011). "The National Highway System". Planning, Environment, & Realty. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ Weingroff, Richard F. (April 7, 2011). "Interstates in Hawaii: Are We Crazy???". Ask the Rambler. Federal Highway Administration. 
  6. ^ United States Congress (1994). "Title 23, Chapter 1, Section §103". U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ The Road Atlas (Map). 1 in:30 mi. Cartography by Rand McNally.  
  8. ^ a b c  
  9. ^ Seward Highway Scenic Byway (Map). Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  10. ^ Official State Travel Map (Map) (2006 ed.). Cartography by Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. 2006. § F10 - F11. 
  11. ^ Staff. "Seward Highway: Driving Directions". America's Byways. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  12. ^ Staff. "Seward Highway: Map" (Map). America's Byways. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d Staff. "October". This Month in Alaska History. Alaska Historical Society. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  14. ^ Staff. "Seward Highway: Official Designations". America's Byways. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  15. ^ The United States Bicycle Route System: Corridor Plan (PDF) (Map). Adventure Cycling Association. June 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  16. ^ Sullivan, Ginny (May 11, 2011). "It's Official! New U.S. Bicycle Routes Approved". Adventure Cycling Association. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ Anchorage, Alaska (Map) (2009 ed.). Cartography by Rand McNally.  
  18. ^ Google (September 3, 2012). "Overview Map of the Old Seward Highway" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  19. ^ Porco, Peter (June 3, 1998). "Smooth Sailing to South".  

External links

  • Seward Highway at America's Byways
  • A journey down the Seward Highway
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