Welcome to the McCarthy Road

Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL)

Study Website

The Federal Highway Administration - Western Federal Lands (WFL) Highway Division, in partnership with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and the National Park Service (NPS), are working together to conduct a corridor study along the McCarthy Road. The study corridor extends 60 miles from the eastern end of Chitina to the Kennicott River, and another four miles to the southern end of the Kennicott subdivision (before the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark).

Project No. AK FLAP DOT 198(4)


McCarthy Road Fast Facts

Main Access

The McCarthy Road is the main overland access into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.


Approximately 100 people live in the Chitina area, 100 people live in the McCarthy area year-round, and at least a dozen families within the road corridor in-between.

Daily Vehicles

Historic annual average daily traffic on the McCarthy Road (at Chitina) is 205 vehicles.

Peak Vehicles

During the peak season, average daily traffic jumps to 400 vehicles.

Road Maintenance

The road is owned by DOT&PF and maintained seasonally from May 15 to October 1.



PEL Study Process

Over the years, local residents and visitors to the corridor and Park have provided feedback that emphasizes the need to evaluate the reliability of access and public safety. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and National Park Service (NPS) joined together to obtain funds through the Federal Lands Access Program to prepare this study.

Public and stakeholder involvement will be integrated throughout the PEL process. Stakeholders, such as the DOT&PF, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Native groups, local businesses, and the public will come together to identify current and future needs within the study area.

Through a PEL process, this study will assess existing opportunities along the McCarthy Road; identify and evaluate potential transportation and access improvements; and propose recommendations for future implementation.

The PEL framework encourages decision-makers to incorporate environmental considerations, community, and economic goals early in the transportation planning process. PELs are intended to better link the planning and environmental review phases; therefore, products produced during this PEL study may be incorporated by reference during a subsequent environmental review process.


Study Purpose and Goals

The purpose of the study is to provide a framework for implementing future transportation improvements. A PEL study moves our ideas from the planning process more directly into the environmental review process.

PEL Study outcomes and goals:

A process that brings together stakeholders and users of the McCarthy Road to improve communication and build collaboration for identifying transportation and access needs.
A documented framework that identifies a list of prioritized transportation and access projects along the McCarthy Road and creates a plan for future implementation of those projects.


The PEL Study started in Summer 2023 and will be completed in Summer 2025. The PEL process and study will be conducted in consultation with Native organizations, the public, stakeholders, and federal and state resource agencies.

Timeline Graphic FINAL 110923

Project Advisory Committee (PAC) Formation

Project Advisory Committee (PAC) Formation: The McCarthy Road PAC will meet throughout the study to provide guidance input. The PAC consists of representatives from DOT&PF, NPS, Native Village of Chitina, Alaska Native Corporations, local residents, and organizations representing tourism, economic development, and regional planning organizations.

Public meetings will be held during three main phases of the study:

  • Assessing needs and opportunities (Meeting #1 – Late 2023)
  • Developing conceptual improvement options (Meeting #2 – Summer 2024)
  • Preparing the PEL Study and draft recommendations (Meeting #3 – Spring 2025)

Get Involved

Please use this form to add your name to the mailing list and/or submit your comments and questions about the McCarthy Road PEL Study. To send a comment letter, or share reports, photos, or data, feel free to email kim.wetzel@jacobs.com directly.

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All comments received will be part of the public record with the names and email addresses from the public redacted.

Contact Us

Federal Highway Administration – Western Federal Lands, Highway Division

Seth English-Young, Planning Team Lead


(360) 619-7803

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

Paul Eckman, DOT&PF Northern Region Design Engineer


(907) 451-2275

National Park Service

Joshua Scott, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Chief of Lands & Planning


(907) 822-7243


Leslie Robbins, Project Manager


Kim Wetzel, Public Involvement Lead


(90seven) 440-1591

To request accommodations for persons with disabilities, information in alternate formats, or to request interpretation

Contact Kim Wetzel at (90seven) 440-159one or kim.wetzel@jacobs.com.