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,
John McPherson, Sr. Planner; HDR Alaska Inc., Anchorage, AK,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1999, Vol. 69, Issue 9, Pg. 52-57

Document Type: Feature article


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.

Subject Headings: Water treatment plants | Project management | Pipes | Construction management | Windows | Rural areas | Permafrost

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