Minnesota Drive Expressway

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Minnesota Drive Expressway

Spenard Thruway
Minnesota Drive Expressway highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Alaska DOT&PF and MATD
Length7.560 mi[2] (12.167 km)
Existedc. 1950[1]–present
Major junctions
South endOld Seward Highway in Anchorage
North endWest 15th Avenue in Anchorage
CountryUnited States
Borough[[w:Municipality of Anchorage Borough, Alaska|Municipality of Anchorage]]
Highway system

The Minnesota Drive Expressway is a 7.560-mile-long (12.167 km) south–north expressway located in the city of Anchorage, Alaska, United States. The expressway includes a small portion of O'Malley Road, which is also built to expressway standards. The highway travels from the southern region of Anchorage northward to North Star neighborhood area, and bisects the community of Spenard. The first section of the highway was constructed around 1950, and the entire highway was upgraded to expressway standards by the year of 1985. The entire length of the expressway is listed on the National Highway System,[3] a network of roads important to the country's economy, defense, and mobility.[4]

Route description

Northbound view of Minnesota Drive from the Dimond Boulevard overpass. The bridges crossing Campbell Creek are a short distance ahead.

The route begins where O'Malley Road intersects the Old Seward Highway. At this point, the route is heading directly west, even though the expressway is south–north. O'Malley Road is, at this point, a four-lane, paved, asphalt road. That intersection is the last at-grade intersection on O'Malley Road. From there, the expressway continues on for about 0.7 miles (1.1 km), passing under a set of railroad tracks, before reaching its first exit, for C Street.[2] The highway passes over C Street and continues past a few small properties before curling north and becoming renamed Minnesota Drive.[5] Almost immediately after the turn is the exit for 100th Avenue.[6] The highway passes over 100th Avenue, and continues past a large neighborhood. The expressway continues, reaching an incomplete interchange with Dimond Boulevard, where the expressway's frontage roads terminate.[5] The highway continues past several large neighborhoods, with an exit for the neighborhoods on the western side of the highway.[7] The roadway continues northward, interchanging with Raspberry Road and passing over a small hiking trail.[6]

Northbound view of Minnesota Drive as it crosses Westchester Lagoon approaching its northern terminus. The skyline of downtown Anchorage is in the background.

The expressway passes a large industrial area before interchanging with International Airport Road, which provides access to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.[5] The highway passes over a railroad track, continues past a large industrial area and a large neighborhood, before reaching an at-grade intersection with Tudor Road, which marks the end of the main controlled-access section of the expressway.[6] The roadway intersects several small roads, and passes numerous small businesses, before intersecting with Spenard Road.[5] The highway continues past several more businesses, intersecting several small roads, including Benson Boulevard and Northern Lights Boulevard, before being upgraded to freeway standards.[7] The expressway passes two small lakes, with a southbound exit for Hillcrest Drive, which provides access to West Anchorage High School.[8] The highway continues northward, merging with Spenard Road and passing a small neighborhood, before intersecting 15th Avenue, where the expressway terminates.[2] The road continues northward as I Street (northbound) and L Street (southbound).[6]


Traffic on the Minnesota Drive Expressway is very high, with a yearly average of approximately 260,000.[2] Daily traffic for the expressway varies greatly, with the highest count being the interchange with International Airport Road, with an average of 47,157,[5] while the lowest count is where O'Malley Road becomes Minnesota Drive, with a daily average of 22,209.[5]


The Minnesota Drive Expressway was first created circa 1950, when the Spenard Road was built in the location of the current highway.[9] By 1962, a highway existed from the northern terminus southward to Dimond Boulevard.[10] By 1983, most portions of the highway had been created,[11] and by 1985, the highway had been fully completed.[12][13] The entire length of the highway was upgraded to expressway standards between 1989 and 2008.[11]

In 2012 the highway was designated the Walter J. Hickel Expressway in honor of the former governor.

On November 30, 2018, a ramp connecting Minnesota Drive to area streets collapsed, as well as the surrounding hillside, during a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck the area. A driver in an SUV who was on the section of destroyed highway was stranded, but uninjured.[14]

Major junctions

The entire route is in the Municipality of Anchorage. All exits are unnumbered.

0.0000.000Old Seward Highway / O'Malley Road eastAt-grade intersection; O'Malley Road continues east
0.2000.322South end of Minnesota Drive Expressway
0.5000.805Lang StreetSouthbound entrance only
0.7601.223C Street
1.7302.784West 100th AvenueSouthern end of frontage roads
2.3003.701Dimond BoulevardNo northbound exit
3.3005.311Strawberry RoadSouthbound exit only
3.8306.164Raspberry Road
4.7407.628 International Airport Road – Anchorage International Airport
5.3608.626North end of Minnesota Drive Expressway
5.3608.626Tudor RoadAt-grade intersection
5.7809.302Spenard RoadAt-grade intersection
6.26010.074Benson BoulevardOne-way (east)
6.37010.252Northern Lights BoulevardOne-way (west)
6.50010.461South end of Spenard Thruway
6.73010.831Hillcrest DriveSouthbound exit only; access to West Anchorage High School
7.33011.796Spenard RoadNorthbound entrance only
7.56012.167West 15th Avenue / I StreetNorthern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ "Map of Alaska" (JPG) (Map). lib.utexas.edu. Cartography by United States Geological Survey. United States Department of the Interior. Anchorage inset. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wit, Jennifer W. (2010). Annual Traffic Volume Report (PDF) (Report) (2008-2009-2010 ed.). Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. pp. III-58–III-59. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 30, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  3. ^ "National Highway System: Anchorage AK" (PDF) (Map). fhwa.dot.gov. Federal Highway Administration. March 2005. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Adderley, Kevin (April 4, 2011). "The National Highway System". Planning, Environment, & Realty. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Anchorage Traffic Map" (PDF) (Map). dot.state.ak.us. Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Alaska Activity Map" (PDF) (Map). alaskaactivityguide.journalgraphicsdigital.com. Alaska Activity Guide. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Google (March 14, 2012). "Overview Map of Minnesota Drive/West O'Malley Road" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  8. ^ "Anchorage Map" (JPG) (Map). frommers.com. Frommer's. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  9. ^ "History of Spenard". spenard.biz. Spenard Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  10. ^ "Map of Alaska" (JPG) (Map). lib.utexas/edu. Cartography by United States Geological Survey. United States Department of the Interior. Anchorage inset. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Design & Construction Standards—Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)—Central Region Projects & Status—Anchorage Area". dot.state.ak.us. Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  12. ^ "Map of Alaska" (JPG) (Map). lib.utexas.edu. Cartography by United States Geological Survey. United States Department of the Interior. Anchorage inset. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  13. ^ Bridges Department. 2009 Bridge Inventory (PDF). dot.state.ak.us (Report). Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 30, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  14. ^ Falsey, Jeannette; Berman, Mark; Fritz, Angela (November 30, 2018). "'Major' damage to Anchorage area after severe 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Alaska". Washington Post. Retrieved December 1, 2018.

==External links==*Exit List