Studded tire season is here in Southcentral and Interior — but not yet in Anchorage

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Studded tires are now allowed on roads north of Seward and Cordova. But drivers should be aware that the Municipality of Anchorage adopted a new ordinance in 2019 that prohibits studded tire within Anchorage City Limits until Oct. 1.

State law allows drivers north of Latitude 60 to put their studded tires on their vehicles on Sept. 16.

Anchorage police have the authority to ticket motorists with studded tires if they are within the city limits, even if they are on state roads. Numerous roads in Anchorage are actually state roads, including Minnesota Blvd., Dimond Blvd, and New Seward Highway being the most well-known, but there are dozens of other state roads throughout the municipality. The traffic laws inside Anchorage apply to these roads, which means is someone is traveling from Fairbanks through Anchorage before Oct. 1 with studded tires, they can be pulled over. The median day for the first snow in Fairbanks is Oct. 9, but snowfall can vary with elevation and other environmental factors.

66 COMMENTS

  1. Studded tires are nothing but a lazy driver’s crutch and a road-destroying abomination, and should be be illegal throughout Alaska, as they have been made virtually everywhere else in the USA. Either that, or make those who insist on using them pay a $3000 tax per studded tire, which might just begin to pay for all the damage that they do to Alaska’s roads.

    • Jefferson,
      Stud greatly improve getting you car going in icy conditions.
      They work well when slowing down also. You don’t think overloaded trucks do more damage to the roads? Go tax that.

      • They don’t have to be overloaded to do damage. the Alaska climate of freezing and thawing is under blamed, and studs are over blamed. Why do you think there are load limits in the spring? Does anyone think that before load limits and after load limits the sagging ruts quit happening.

        • In business with 4 kids, it’s not just the Freeze / Thaw cycle it’s also the weak rock that is used for asphalt and roadbed material. Constant loading breaks the rock down to powder, the 200 mesh minus powder is responsible for absorbing water which then leads to frost jacking.
          If you doubt this, look out your window at Cook Inlet. That’s glacial flour floating by.
          Get hard or keep repaving!

          • Actually the DOT has had super pave type rock crushed north of Cantwell and railed to anchorage to improve the wear factor. The main problem is failed road bed and heavy truck traffic.

    • Jefferson the studs are not what’s causing the ruts. It’s the composition of the asphalt. Besides I see and hear cars with studs on year round. The cops can’t even write tickets for red light runners no headlights on or expired tags.

      • Mark, I have heard that rationalization about the rutted roads here in Alaska, and I do not believe it for one minute. It is simply a lie!

        For one thing, I have NEVER seen similarly rutted asphalt roads in other states where studded tires are illegal. Also, your theory fails to account for the obvious ruts in the occasional sections of CONCRETE road surfaces here in Southcentral. Have you driven over the Knik River bridge lately? It is concrete-surfaced, and has ruts almost as bad as on any of the asphalts-surfaced roads.

        No, it is clear that studded tires are to blame. Please stop repeating this lie about soft asphalt being responsible.

        • Ruts come from displacement, essentially the stretching of the surface course as the lower levels are displaced. Studs do not cause ruts, but they may incrementally increase surface wear. Studs do not increase the downward pressure on the asphalt. The rutting is greater than the surface course, the only part a stud touches.

          • If that is true, and I dispute your theory, than you still have to explain the obvious ruts in CONCRETE sections of roadway. Or are you daring to suggest that concrete is flowing like asphalt supposedly does?

            Also, you are left trying to explain why rutted asphalt roads do not exist in states where studs are not used. At least, I have never seen them.

        • Jefferson then where is all the asphalt the studs removed? I worked with two Anchorage contractors that lay asphalt and both have told me they changed the asphalt formula to be more elastic. Also when a heavy vehicle is parked in one spot for a period of time the asphalt will cup or displace under the load. I have seen this numerous times. Why are the ruts straight and not covered through intersections? You and I agree on a lot of issues but my personal experience in this says different. By the way the bridges are mostly concrete and rock salt is a motor enemy of Concrete that’s why I do not allow salt on my concrete driveway that was asphalt until I was told why I had tire imprints from a heavy vehicle sitting in one spot all summer.

        • The ruts are not due to studs, they are due to the PSI exerted on the footprint of the tires on the roads. All the ruts are the width of small cars with narrow whell base and if you do the math, they exert more pounds per square inch on the asphalt than does a loaded 80000 pound tractor trailer combination. There is no question, only limited math skills.

          • Robert, then you need to explain the ruts in the CONCRETE sections of roadway.

            And in response to Mark (above you), I can definitively tell you where all that asphalt goes that the studs remove: into dust! I live in close proximity to the Glenn Highway, and ANYTHING left outside for any length of time in the colder months becomes coated with a sticky, BLACK as coal layer of dust, that is clearly coming from the asphalt on the highway. Things left outside for similar periods in the summer do NOT become coated with this black-as-coal dust.

            And honestly, is it not ludicrous to even suggest that driving with metal-studded tires is NOT going to degrade the road surface? Really, the very suggestion is intellectually insulting.

            I seem to have really hit a nerve with this studded tire debate, having laid bare the selfishness of so many Alaskan drivers who otherwise do not consider themselves to be feeding at the public trough, which is essentially what they ARE doing by demanding to use studded tires, and them making everyone ELSE pay for the serious costs and ramifications of their personal choice.

        • Well I don’t know what to tell you except people that have and continue to work with asphalt will tell you that there are different types of asphalt and what goes on the roads is soft on purpose. I worked in a tire shop back in the day and live drove on them and we never had ruts in the roads until the last years.

    • Why is this topic always your hill to die on, Jefferson?
      You think I should get taxed $12,000?
      The roads up here are damaged from frost heaving, extreme temperatures, shoddy road construction on poor road beds and permafrost.
      You think I’m a lazy driver? You can’t get up and down my long twisty hilly driveway WITHOUT studs. My road is a public road but it is plowed maybe once a season if I’m lucky. So, every winter people with just snows on still need rescuing from either my driveway or road. I have never been stuck once. I use studs because I want to be SAFE on these roads in the Interior. The people who are the cheap ass idiots that are running on all seasons should be taxed. They cause the most accidents to themselves and others.
      You act like regular winter studded tires are running ice racing tire screws.

      • Given that DOT has wholeheartedly adopted brining the intersections, and stretches of roads, studs are an increasingly good idea to help overcome the slimed sections of road that endure long after whatever weather event it was that caused the brine to be applied. The brined sections of road can easily be visually identified throughout the entire winter, and they are far more slippery than the stretches that were left untreated. Seeing the roads get salted is a travesty, but it pales in comparison to the dangers created by laying down brine. It has created a lot of accidents that would have never happened otherwise.

    • States that ban them are simply shifting the costs of ice-related car accidents onto the driving public.

      They save on having to pay construction workers and engineers for road maintenance, but accident rates go up and the driving public pays the price. Fact is, road maintenance is ‘boring’ to leftist politicians – they’d much rather use that money to buy votes – while collecting fines from individuals when more accidents occur.

      ‘Lazy’ has nothing to do with it – all vehicles with studs can stop significantly faster than any other tire type. On glare ice, all it takes is one ratchet ghetto dweller pulling in front of you at the wrong time and you end up with fines, fake ‘neck injuries’, insurance rates going up. Stopping in 30 feet vs 50 feet is a big difference. Sure, its an extra expense and chore to jack up the trucks and swap tires every season, but worth it compared with the downside.

      When governments ban the tools you use to protect yourself on the road, you really need to ask yourself why? Far from banning studded tires – Scandinavian countries and Finland actually require them – and fine people for not having during winter months.

    • It honestly doesn’t matter. The DOT can’t build any road that lasts more than 3 years. Improve the construction of said roads, then we can talk about studded tires. When was the glen highways road bed been re charged, not just mill and repave?

    • Of course the action of ice and freeze thaw cycle on the roads is completely harmless, especially during breakup (/sarc). Add to that the use of soft asphalt (which gives us ruts) from the Slope (thanks to Wally), and you get some wear and tear on the roads.

      Perspective is everything. Your “road-destroying abomination” is another’s necessary piece of safety equipment like front wheel drive, four wheel drive, working brakes, seat belts, air bags, etc. Cheers –

      • Agimarc (and others), I wonder how many accidents have occurred, and lives been lost, due to accidents caused by hydroplaning in the water-filled ruts caused by studded tire wear? Have you ever pondered THAT aspect of the stud driving crutch?

        • Most likely far less than accidents caused by icy, slippery roads and drivers, who can not control their vehicle, due to poor tire traction. Driving into Anchorage after even a modest snowfall, there are cars in the ditch left and right, some rolled over and some just mow down light poles. You don’t see the same after it rains in the summer.
          Why are you so hostile to studded tires anyway???

          • Taxpayer, as I have already explained repeatedly, I am hostile to the SELFISH and destructive use of studded tires because they are, well, destructive to the roads! This is not even debatable, either, as the matter has been argued and settled in almost every other state, and for the same logical reason: because studded tires cost more in damages to the roadways than they are worth as a crutch for impatient and/or lazy drivers. Somehow, though, only in Alaska do we still find these specious rationalizations for their continued use.

          • Calling others “lazy” or “selfish” doesn’t help your cause. It just makes you sound petulant and irrational. This is especially true as we established there are MANY factors that go into the deterioration of the road surface. Demanding that ALL accept YOUR level of risk tolerance and drive like you, IS SELFISH. Who made you dictator over all things winter driving???
            Interestingly in my reading I discovered that some states, which banned studs, still allow them YEAR round on school buses, ambulances, fire trucks and public transportation. So apparently while it is A okay for government it is a big no-no for the average citizen.
            As an aside studded tire users already pay a fee to the state when they purchase new or get them swapped out.

          • Taxpayer, you are putting words into my mouth that are not mine.

            I never said that studded tires, and studded tires alone, are responsible for ALL road wear. What I am claiming, and common sense, experience and DOT statements back this up, that studded tires cause most if not almost all the RUTTING in our roadways — and which, again (because none of you will address this fact), applies to CONCRETE road surfaces as well as asphalt. Or are you going to tell me concrete “oozes” under the weight of vehicles as well?

            I’m sorry, but I appear to have hit one giant vein of hypocrisy and denialism with all the advocates of studded tires here.

    • Complete nonsense. I am glad you don’t live up the same treacherous mountain road that I do. I’d have to pull you out of the ditch.

    • Wow Jefferson! If this had been posted by any other person, I would have ignored your rant. However you continuously call people out as leftist-commie-tyrants, when they demand government use its power to compel all others to do their bidding, not allowing any choices for the individual. Yet here you are demanding to use the heavy cudgel of government to implement confiscatory taxes, robbing me of $12000 of my hard earned dollars, because you don’t like studs. Not very libertarian of you, is it???

      • Taxpayer, respectfully, I dispute your mischaracterization of me here.

        As long as the roads are built and maintained by government, it is very NON-libertarian for those who use studded tires, and thereby incur damage to the roads, to expect everyone else collectively to pay for their own selfish use of those studs. I am only asking that those who incur the costs pay the costs. THAT is a very libertarian principle.

        • Jefferson, there are certain functions of government we ALL contribute to. Roads, police and fire, education are some of them. Following your logic all those, who call 911 or have the cops at their house, should pay for the call-out, as they clearly “abuse” the system. Same goes for education, half the property taxes in this town go to ASD. I never had kids in the ASD, should I demand that only parents cough up the dough necessary to keep that beast running?
          While I recognize your position and could see how you perceive that studded tires MAY potentially exacerbate certain road damage, your heavy handed my-way-or-the-highway rant does not embody your proclaimed life philosophy of libertarianism, as define as upholding liberty as a core value, maximize autonomy and political freedom, minimize the state’s encroachment, emphasizing the rule of law, freedom of choice, freedom of movement, individualism, to name a few.
          Telling people where to live and how to conduct their lives, while threatening government punishment, is the opposite.

      • Agree – I’m not sure if he realizes that he’s siding with some pretty nasty people with his stance on this one. Scratch the surface and you’ll always discover that the anti-stud people are always leftists that want to impose greater costs on the driving public through increased accidents and insurance rates.

        Do you think the Assembly will ‘have your back’ after you cuck and do as they demand? Give up studded tires, and you can’t stop as quickly on ice. No big deal until you slide into one of their precious Native inebriates that like to play in the road. If you’re White, they’ll be leading the lynch mob.

        Even if you don’t understand all the finer points an issue, when you find yourself allied with our wacko Assembly majority – you have seriously have to ask yourself if you took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. We’re here to help get you back on course.

    • Ever work on roads, Jefferson? I have: built them, repaired them, and maintained them, including railroads and airfields. The vast majority of the “ruts” you’re complaining about are due to displacement. Engineers have known this for generations. It’s worse in spring when the roadbed thaws from the top down. Do studs cause damage. Yes, but it’s minor, and when the ashohakt surface is frozen, there’s no damage at all. Look at the next road grader that goes by plowing snow. That blade alone weighs more than a mid size car. Imagine the carnage when that blade catches a manhole cover ring. Been there, done that. Ouch. The Workman’s Comp claims among snowplow operators is astoundingly high.
      So, in short, studded tires on passenger cars are like anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere. It’s there, but if you believe that it’s changing the climate, or that a tax can fix it, you’re more of a problem than the carbon.

      • Reggie, your claims fly in the face of the facts — the fact that these ruts are ALSO seen in concrete surfaces, and just coincidentally are NOT seen in asphalt roads in other states. I certainly have never seen it before coming to Alaska, anyway.

        And again, I will point out that not only have DOT engineers verified my logical conclusions about studded tires — that they are responsible for most if not almost all rutting in the roads — but your claims that studded tires do NOT wear away at the road surface is absurd on the face of it. How could they NOT?

        And again, you fail to address the fact that I and others who live in close proximity to the highway or other well-traveled roads are well acquainted with the black, BLACK dust that accumulates on all surfaces outdoors in our yards during the season when studded tires are in use, and does NOT occur outside of that season, nor is it found at any significant distance away from those roadways. When I lived on the upper Hillside, this black dust, that I deal with EVERY year and have for over 20 years, was never seen.

        Rationalizations among those who selfishly demand the use of studs, at their heavy cost to the public in general, appear to be pretty adamant in trying to find excuses for others to subsidize their choices. That is called hypocrisy.

  2. Oh this is all a crock of s**t.
    I don’t drive all that much and I have heard at least 3 dozen vehicles pull up near me close enough to hear studs grinding up the asphalt. I don’t believe with the number of vehicle I encountered APD is even bothering to enforce at all.
    It drives me nuts to hear the studs grinding ruts in the asphalt that fills with water and hydroplanes your tires in the rain or skates them on two ribbons of ice when it freezes.
    Jefferson is right. there should be a huge tax on everyone who is too cheap to use studless winter tires that work better than studs. Studs on asphalt loses traction because of the steel studs sliding eaasier.

    • “I don’t drive all that much…….”
      That’s probably not the best beginning sentence to a paragraph chiding people who drive a lot and for decades on Alaska’s frozen roads………

  3. Well Jefferson, spoken like someone who; A. sits behind a desk. B. “works from home”. C. works hitch work. The rest of us unwashed, lazy drivers who actually commute or drive more then a couple of blocks like the idea of being able to stop (proven 23 feet sooner), start and steer on ice. Of course I’m probably don’t have as much Alaskan Driving experience then you. After all only been here for 52 of my 53 years and learned to drive in the Valley on dirt roads.

    • OVT, I have been driving on winter roads in both northern Michigan and in Alaska for over 40 years, not once with studded tires, and not once with a wintertime accident. Because I exercise DUE CAUTION in adverse conditions and on compromised roads — something that most drivers nowadays, who appear to believe that the posted speed limit is a LOWER limit, under ALL conditions, do not even comprehend.

  4. Taxpayer subsidized BEV’s are so heavy they will get plenty of traction without studs and create bigger ruts. The suckers driving ICE’s will be paying for all of the repairs with a gas tax. All subsidized by the taxpayers and an inept congress

  5. You are all missing the point. In typical “We know what is good for you and will protect you from climate-change” fashion, the assembly had to stick its considerable nose into this matter. Why not leave it alone and follow the state? We have been watching the snow creep down the mountain for a couple a weeks now and when 1 October rolls around you can’t get an appointment anywhere to get your tires changed, because everyone is trying to get it done. More hassle for all.

  6. The first year that this Anchorage ordinance went into effect it snowed in September. This has been a business hurt to anybody in the tire business. But our assembly is here to “help” us!

  7. Studded tires gives us littler cars more traction when our bigger car neighbors have something we don’t have; contributing to their traction is its heavier weight. Some of us littler cars will also use sandbags in our little trunks.

    • Jen, more weight may be helpful when trying to get moving from a standstill/stop, but it comes with a penalty when trying to slow down. Make sure you give those big trucks some extra space to slow down–even during summer!

  8. Anyone who doesn’t want the margin of safety that studded tires have proven to provide is a fool. And could not possibly have a job that requires driving.

  9. Me I don’t use use sandbags in my little trunk. I keep a supply of Bibles and Devotionals (one box each) so I always have something to gift out. I think more Anchorage Christians ought to do the same. Put a bit of money aside I call mission money to buy bibles and devotionals at thrift stores or garage sales so when the Good Lord brings peoples into our lives we have a pretty looking or strong looking devotional to match the personality we just met or have a variety types of bible not Mormon or JW. Recovery type bibles are really popular as well as Large-type print is often preferred especially with the aging homeless and illiterate.

    • Jen,
      I feel that is awesome of you. Of course I think if ol’ Jesus was a Uber driver these days he would most likely “suggest” you carry some type of survival equipment in your vehicle in Alaska in the winter time. Maybe a shovel or tow strap at least…”Trust in God but keep your powder dry” kind of thing…

    • In the mid-80’s I bought one of the first Audi Quattros models, then fitted it with Goodrich Winter Slalom tires…….studded. It was incredible. Remember those Goodyear commercials back in the 50’s & 60’s with the tiger paws/claws for tires? That’s what it was like. On those occasional mornings with rain on ice, I couldn’t spin my tires if I tried. Made a believer out of me.
      The complaining is interesting. As a former heavy equipment operator and snow removal manager, I wonder if folks have a clue how much chemical we apply to the roads……..which drain into all the waters near the roads? I wonder how the fish, waterfowl, and muskrats like that? Tons and tons each year. I went to a snow removal management seminar in Wisconsin one year and was aghast to learn that the University of Indiana alone applied 800,000 tons of the stuff in one winter……..which, if course, is much shorter than our winter. The seminar had just a few snow removal managers, but dozens of chemical salesmen handing out business cards.

  10. Frank, can we at least agree that the double washboard conditions at Anchorage intersections could be remedied by the following.
    Remove the unsuitable roadbed beneath the intersections, and pave the intersections with a silica fume/ hydrophobic concrete mix. This durable mix would last for a generation. The downside is that it would inhibit traffic flow through these intersections for at least 6 weeks causing horrible traffic snarls.
    I’m thinking that the politicos would rather repave every two years instead of getting nasty phone calls from irate motorists.
    What’s your take?

  11. Alaska DOT states that studded tires reduce asphalt surface life from 15 years down to 6-8 years, so studded tires are the problem. There are northern tier states that ban studs and it’s time to ban them in Alaska. Almost 35 years ago I was finally in a position to afford a set of studded tires for my new truck and quite frankly I was underwhelmed with the difference they made. I used them two seasons and never used them again. When I sold the truck twelve years later I had to beg the buyer to take those studded tires off my hands. If someone feels the need for winter tires they should get a set of Blizzak tires. As for me, I just run the same tires all year long without any adverse effects.

    • Well said, Erik.

      But the narrow and personal self-interest of those selfish and lazy studded tire owners seems to override their sense of responsibility and their shame in demanding that every other driver and taxpayer pay to remediate the consequences of THEIR own use of studded tires.

      • Jefferson and AKErik, I agree that studded tires may be a contributing factor to the deterioration of the road surface, but to claim it to be the SOLE reason for this issue is illogical. It is convenient for DOT the blame the one thing they have no control over (other than the weather), studded tire use. In my opinion an easy excuse, instead of investigating other materials and techniques. There are places in this state where DOT put down new road bed and the next spring it looks like undulating waves with dips and ruts. That’s not from studs, but more likely a combination of road bed failure, permafrost and frost heaves. It is my opinion that in our harsh climate, roads simply suffer more than in other places and require more frequent repair and maintenance.

        • Taxpayer, I agree with you here, that studded tires obviously are not the root cause of every kind of road problem and road surface wear in Alaska. Frost heaves, for example (such as until recently found en masse on the Richardson Roller Coaster) have nothing to do with studded tires. Nor does the cracking of asphalt roads that requires constant patching (anyone driven West Lakes Road on the north side of Big Lake lately? It is ALL patchwork, almost literally!)

          My complaint lie with the ruts found in our roads and highways, ruts that I never, not ONCE, ever saw on any road in any part of Michigan. And the ONLY difference between the roads there and the roads here (aside from many more of them there being concrete in urban areas) was the lack of studded tires in Michigan, which I am just barely old enough to remember when they were finally made illegal. I was confused and shocked when I first ever visited Alaska, and saw all the rutted roads here, something that I had never seen before.

    • Blizzaks are great winter tires. If you could stud them, they’d be even better. Try Goodrich Winter Slaloms next time……..studded.

  12. Just wait until the Biden mandated EVs take effect. With heavier studded tires, roads will be torn up even sooner. That’s where the extra tire tax should come into play. //Then again, maybe they won’t get very far in winter//

  13. I get far superior performance from studless blizzaks or Michelin X-ice for the type of winter driving I do.
    Some steeper driveways may require studs but I always recommend studless to customers and they always thank me for the advice after using them.
    Much smoother ride and quieter without the deadline of removing on time or run them year round if not a lot of summer miles on hot asphalt which shortens lifespan.
    One word of caution careful when braking excessively on ice as followers may not be equipped with studless tires and cause an accident.
    I have avoided many nearmiss rearend collisions by watching the guy in the mirror with white knuckles cussing because of the Bald Eagle Maypop tires some people run.

    • I had Blizzaks on a crew cab F-150 for a single winter work season. Absolute garbage.
      Tire traction was so bad I was using 4WD nonstop AND the softer rubber wore out very quickly.
      Even tested it out – was able to stop faster in an 1985 Chevy G20 VAN with heavy studs – and that old truck had rear drum brakes and no ABS.

      Trashed the worthless blizzaks, had the tire shop provide two studded deep tread tires on an extra set of rims. (Shops won’t mount a single pair of studded tires since the 90s, thank you so much, parasite lawyers…..) Still, once on – it was like night and day. Good traction, could use 2WD again – just a slightly rougher ride.

  14. So…. I live in the Valley. If I need to drive to Kenai with my studded tires, I need to stop and change them over before hitting Anchorage, then stop and swap them again after driving through Anchorage. This is ridiculously STUPID. Anchorage is smack dab in the middle if this road system. Thank you Anchorage voters for the stupidity of the Anchorage ASSembly.

  15. One quick comment from the peanut gallery. Anyone remember when the state made concealed carry law and Los Anchorage wanted to say no in their town? The governor said they can not do such and the ordinance was repealed. Wondering if this will happen with this ordinance, state roads are not muni roads. Maybe, enforceable to muni residents only?? I wonder when this will go to court.

  16. “Siped” tires work best, more cost effective, more convenient, easier on the paved roads.
    Suggestion … Acquire your Man-Card, Get a PhD in Masculine Toxicity Studies, and Learn to Drive like a Man (Hi-Speed, Low-Drag … Full Throttle!).

  17. Jefferson, you have indicated other states do not have troughing issues with their roads based on studded tire bans. Would you prefer the use of tire chains? They are legal in all 50 states and required either always or during specific periods by California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. (Florida has no chain laws). Obviously, tire chains damage the road surface to a greater extent and would create a hazard to traffic based on the 35mph speed limit for most types, but they are permitted under state statute for hazardous weather or other related incidents. Further to your taxation issue, please note the following: o AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act).
    Upon application, a special individual traction permit may be issued by the Department of
    Administration allowing the operation of a motor vehicle with studded tires or chains at any
    time at the discretion of the vehicle owner. The fee for the special individual permit is one-third
    of the biennial registration fee applicable to that class of vehicle under AS 28.10.421 . The
    department may provide an appropriate sticker or other device identifying the vehicle to which
    the permit applies.
    Bottom line: Studded tires are a personal choice safety issue. I choose to carry a First Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher, Flares, Blood Born Pathogen Kit, Blankets, Cold Weather Gear, and a Survival Kit in all of my vehicles. I also highly recommend studded tires and purchase the best tire available for each vehicle owned. Safety First!

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