Bridge building, road building: civil construction contractors stay busy.

Author:Sharpe, Margaret

Although the Knik Arm Crossing between the Port of Anchorage and Port MacKenzie is not under construction yet, and a life-saving road between King Cove and Cold Bay still isn't approved, this summer's construction season schedule was filled with many other bridge and road projects around the state. Successful completion in the tight timeframe takes innovation, flexibility, and a lot of planning.

Tanana Crossing

One very large, very long (3,300 feet) project is the Tanana River bridge at Sakha. Kiewit was the prime contractor with Brice Civil Construction out of Fairbanks as one of multiple subcontractors. Brice provided more than three hundred thousand tons of rip rap for the bridge and levee. Groundbreaking took place in August 2011, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony followed thirty-six months later in August this year. The cost of the project was $188 million.

"The railroad is very proud of the effort that we did," says Clark Hopp, vice president of engineering for the Alaska Railroad Corporation. "We felt like we were good stewards of the federal government's, i.e., the DOD's money, and also good stewards of the state of Alaska. We appreciate the trust they had in us to deliver a project that was of benefit to the railroad but really a benefit to the entire state."

The bridge is the first phase of a larger four-phase project to extend rail services to Delta Junction. "Phase two will build the railroad from its current terminus at North Pole up to and across the Tanana River bridge to an off-load facility on the far side of the bridge," Hopp says. "And then come phases three and four, which will ultimately build the railroad the rest of the way to Delta Junction."

Now complete, the access across the Tanana River will facilitate future construction and provide year-round access to the military training grounds on the Tanana Flats, the Joint Pacific Area Range Complex, or JPARC. "It really was a win-win," Hopp says.

The dual-purpose bridge will ultimately accommodate rail and road traffic, similar to the Whittier Tunnel, for which Kiewit was also the contractor. "It won't look anything like it, but it's similar in its use. You can take a train, a car, or military equipment across," Hopp says.

The innovative delivery process used for the Tanana River bridge project played an important role in its success. Construction Management General Contractor method, or CMGC, allowed for risk management concurrent with construction. "We talked about the...

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