Alaska's Last Link

by Florence Rooney, Legal Consultant; R&M Consultants Inc., Anchorage, AK,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 12, Pg. 65-67

Document Type: Feature article


Alaska's Seward Highway has been upgraded this past year. The last section of the highway dates back to the state's early mining days in the Kenai Peninsula, a rugged and scenic section. Early primitive roads were placed by gold miners in 1895, and have been upgraded to some extent in this century. This project brought 6.3 miles up to current federal highway standards, and included a bridge across Canyon Creek. The geotechnical investigation showed the potential for liquefaction in the area where piers for the bridge had been planned, so the site had to be changed. The bridge rises 95 ft over the canyon floor and designers decided to use drilled shafts, the first time the construction method had been used in Alaska. There were unexpected problem during construction and the contractor and engineers decided to change the lateral loads on the shafts to be resisted by the rock sockets. however, probes showed that there was no contact between the concrete shaft and the rock socket. The team decided to strengthen the soil column to resist possible liquefaction. Other constraints in the area included environmental and native American Indian historical buildings and site characteristics. Citizens were concerned about bicycle and vehicle safety in the remote area. In spite of the problems the project was completed on schedule.

Subject Headings: Soil liquefaction | Shafts | Highways and roads | Soil strength | Site investigation | Rocks | Project management | Alaska | United States

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