Yukon River to Prudhoe Bay Highway — Lessons in Arctic Design and Construction

by James F. McPhail, Manager of Engineer; Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., Anchorage, Alaska,
Allan W. Murfitt, Project Engr.; Dames & Moore, Anchorage, Alaska,
William B. McMullen, Asst. Vice Pres.; Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1976, Vol. 46, Issue 2, Pg. 78-82

Document Type: Feature article


Construction of roads on muskeg over perennially frozen subsoils is becoming increasingly common in the arctic and subarctic regions of North America due to recent emphasis on development of oil and other resources. Early attempts at road building have sometimes led to unfortunate results in terms of cost to owners and effect on the environment. A sound engineering approach, with appropriate consideration of the unique geologic-environmental characteristics of the far north, is required to properly locate, design, construct, and maintain roads in these regions. It is necessary to identify cold regions geomorphic features, such as patterned ground, solifluction sheets and lobes, beaded drainage, and others that indicate the presence of unstable ice-rich organics and fine-grained soils. These should be avoided wherever possible, but special design and construction techniques will be required where avoidance is not possible. Planning and scheduling are especially critical in order to take advantage of seasonal conditions which affect various construction activities.

Subject Headings: Highway and road design | Infrastructure construction | Rivers and streams | Bays | Hydraulic design | Highways and roads | Fine-grained soils | Subsoils | Arctic | North America

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