Connecting a Community: Aleknagik Wood River Bridge

March 7, 2016
Wood River Bridge

After more than 15 years of planning and construction, the Aleknagik Wood River Bridge officially opened to traffic in October 2015.

The Wood River Bridge project, located in southwest Alaska, approximately 20 miles northwest of Dillingham, extended roads and constructed a new 440’ long bridge across the Wood River. The bridge connects the entire community of Aleknagik, previously divided by the Wood River, to the existing roadway system and the regional economic hub of Dillingham.

Getting this bridge built has been a high priority of the village of Aleknagik for many years. Aleknagik is located at the headwaters of the Wood River where Lake Aleknagik enters the river and is near the world class Wood-Tikchik State Park. The village occupies both the north and south shores of Lake Aleknagik, but most of the population resides on the north shore. The community had to rely on boats and snow machines to travel within the area. Poor weather could make the trip treacherous, and many lives have been lost crossing the lake in both winter and summer. The new bridge and access road provides a safe link between the village and educational, commercial and travel resources in Dillingham.

Tim Grier, R&M’s Group Manager of Surface Transportation and Project Manager for the Wood River Bridge project has spent nearly a decade working to bring this project to completion. “I remember when this project first advertised for professional services and thought: Wow, we are going to build a bridge across the legendary Wood River!” said Tim. “Reflecting on my time spent developing this project and witnessing the construction of the bridge makes me proud to be part of this remarkable piece of infrastructure for the Dillingham area. I look forward to seeing how it improves safety and community cohesion, and helps the local economy thrive.”

Notable Project Features


  • Paved two 10’ lanes for all-season ride quality.
  • 5’ shoulders for enhanced non-motorized travel.
  • 5% maximum grades for bridge approaches for safety in winter months.
  • Upgraded drainage and ditches to reduce maintenance costs.
  • Bridge:

  • Three-span continuous steel plate girders to provide the needed 176’ navigational opening.
  • Composite cast-in-place concrete deck for durability and long service life.
  • Two high strength 8’ diameter drilled shafts socked into bedrock for foundations.
  • Low maintenance 6’ diameter columns with hammerhead style piers to support the deck and provide the needed 40’ vertical navigational opening.
  • Mission Creek Culvert:

  • 19’ bottomless arch culvert to provide fish passage founded on concrete strip footings.
  • Sheet pile scour protection that doubled as salmon mitigation to allow construction without entering the water to protect high value spawning grounds.
  • Other Enhancements:

  • Parking lot and stairway to the river’s edge to protect the steep bank from uncontrolled foot traffic.
  • Elevated light penetrating stairway construction promotes growth of vegetation by allowing sunlight to penetrate and maintain slope stability.
  • Lowest stairway section is hinged to prevent high water/ice damage.
  • Conduits and bridge penetrations installed for future undergrounding of power and communication cables.
  • Over the decade-long project development process many R&M employees contributed to this project. Current R&M team members include:

    Ryan Goentzel, Jason Osburn, Tim Grier, Hank Brinker, Dave Hale, Marc Frutiger, Ryan Redick, Kristi McLean, Jim Nelson, Buzz Scher, Brian Meyers, Aaron Banks, Irene Turletes, Hans Arnett, Patrick Hewlett, Jake Austin, Emery Schraam, Matt Majoros, Nicole Knox, Len Story, Lance DeBernardi, Rebecca Hardcastle, Duane Anderson, Jessica, Koloski, Rori Van Nortwick, Josh Crowe, Tom Garrett, Don Porter, David Carlson, Bill Preston, Katie Chan, Charlie Riddle, Mike Adams, Karen Tilton, Matt Griffin, Orlan Paroan, Julie Kotila, and Brian Mullen.

    This project is a classic example of the projects the R&M team enjoys most – those that make a difference in the lives of Alaskans.

    Project Team
    Bridge Design: Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Bridge Section
    Roadway Design: R&M Consultants, Inc.
    Construction: Mowat Construction, Inc.