American Society of Civil Engineers

Conquering the Cold

by Richard Barnett, P.E., (Sr. Civ. Engr., HDR Alaska Inc., Anchorage, AK), Mark Dalton, (Dir. of Envir. Services, HDR Alaska Inc., Anchorage, AK), and John McPherson, (Sr. Planner, HDR Alaska Inc., Anchorage, AK)

Civil Engineering—ASCE
, Vol. 69, No. 9, September 1999, pp. 52-57

     Purchase Information
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Feature Article
Abstract: Three projects—a water treatment plant, an airport, and a hydroelectric plant—illustrate how practicing engineering in Alaska differs from working in the contiguous 48 states. Permafrost, a layer of frozen earth that sits below more than half of Alaska’s land mass, prevents the burying of pipe, so insulated “arctic pipe” often runs aboveground. Alaska’s climate allows only a four-month construction window annually, so work must be efficient and designs must be fully developed before construction starts—mistakes can add years, not just months, to a project. Moreover, since most of the state is divided into tiny rural settlements, the state’s road system is not well developed, making transportation of materials a serious issue.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Cold regions
Cold weather construction
Construction methods