R&M Participates in SAME/ASCE Joint Luncheon Panel: Dalton Highway Reconstruction Project

November 4, 2016
Jai Speaking at the SAME/ASCE Luncheon.

Jai Chang, EIT speaking about R&M’s role on the Dalton Highway Reconstruction at the SAME/ASCE Luncheon.

An unprecedented flooding event in northern Alaska occurred in spring 2015, shutting down the Dalton Highway and causing major supply issues to the North Slope.

R&M Staff Engineer Jai Chang, EIT participated in a panel presentation on October 27, along with three other speakers from organizations involved, in the emergency efforts to repair the highway and reestablish supply lines. The panel also spoke to ongoing construction efforts. R&M was responsible for construction administration and inspection services, including engineering, materials testing, grade and culvert inspection, and traffic control.

This presentation, Dalton Hwy/Sag River Severe Flooding: Engineering and Constructing a Solution, was a joint program sponsored by the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) – Anchorage Post and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Anchorage Branch.

In addition to Jai, speakers included Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Assistant Commissioner Mike Coffey, Cruz Construction’s Vice President of Operations Jeff Miller and NANA Management Services (NMS) Operations Manager
Laura Carpenter.

New embankment on the Dalton Highway

New embankment on the Dalton Highway

Mike discussed the history of the Dalton Highway, the cause of the flood and DOT&PF’s response, which include creation of the Unified Incident Command (UIC). The UIC was composed of all stakeholders and was a central place for information and working through logistics and other issues.

Jai is responsible for office engineering tasks, project setup, review of cost estimates and change order support. He spent the past two summers on the North Slope working on this project. He talked about road components, including slope and fill materials, changes in road elevation, preventative emergency berm construction work in Spring 2016, insulation installation in the roadway and other interesting facts about the project.

Jeff discussed Cruz’s construction operations, including the logistics of moving materials in the short window of time, resources and shifts to get the work accomplished, and equipment needed.

NMS manages four BP camps on the North Slope that house more than 2000 people. Laura discussed the effects of the flood on camp operations. Supply shortages affected everything from food to housekeeping supplies to laundry soap. Normally, 140,000 pounds of goods are delivered weekly, but with the supply road shutdown, they had to airlift supplies and were severely restricted on the amount of goods that could be brought in at one time.

Flooding again occurred in the area in Spring 2016 but, due to the incident last year, DOT&PF was better prepared and able to prevent water from overflowing and damaging the highway. Efforts this year included a two-mile long gravel berm placed on the east side of the road to protect against potential flooding south of the project. It was later incorporated back into the grade. Other improvements included raising the grade 8’ from MP 397-405 with borrow and 4-5’ from MP 405-415 with insulation and borrow; shaping the inlet and outlet channels for the multiplate culverts; installing smaller culverts; and replacing and installing delineators.

The project is currently in winter shutdown. The work will commence June 2017 and is estimated to be complete by mid-September 2017.

The remaining work includes:

  • Pit reclamation
  • Thermal berm
  • Top of borrow shaping to finish hubs
  • Approaches
  • Crushed aggregate surface course (final 4” to add to the Dalton road)
  • Calcium chloride (could be mixed in with the CASC)
  • Culvert markers
  • R&M’s support work during the final construction season will include engineering, materials testing for the Dalton Highway MP 397-415 & 379-397 projects, grade and sign inspection, traffic control and project closeout.