On the way to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport one evening I was driving in the opposite direction of a house traveling down Jewel Lake Road. It had been loaded onto a truck, was draped with the familiar yellow "oversize load" banner, and was being escorted by two ubiquitous white pilot trucks, also festooned with the bright warning. I worriedly eyed the angle of the truck and the median it was steadily approaching before dismissing my concern with a single thought: someone must have planned this out.
And indeed, not just one, but many "someones" planned it out. Hauling oversize or overweight loads anywhere in Alaska requires significant planning; as STR Alaska's Curtis Spencer says, "The logistics get really complicated."
Alaska Trucking Association Executive Director Aves Thompson recalls one example of how complicated a heavy haul project can be: In the 1980s the city of Anchorage constructed the A Street-C Street couplet, essentially building A Street to reduce traffic, congestion, and accidents in the C Street corridor. Accident rates at various C Street intersections, such as 15th Avenue, Fireweed Lane, Benson Boulevard, and 36th Avenue, were well above the "3.0+ critical rate," ranging from 3.32 (48 accidents in one year) at Benson and C street to 4.87 (59 accidents) at C Street and Fireweed, according to the "A-C Couplet Final Environmental Impact/Section 4(f) Statement" issued in 1982. In the course of building A Street, "they displaced probably fifteen or twenty houses along the A Street route," Thompson says. "So all of those houses were relocated to the valley; they picked them up and moved them." He says he was working for the state at the time and it was his responsibility to oversee the permitting process. He describes it as a "great little project" as fifteen or twenty people were able to buy homes at a "very reasonable" cost, but each one of the affordable homes was considered heavy haul and required a permit.
It may be rare in Anchorage lately to see houses hauled to and fro, but the heavy haul industry is busy with a variety of other tasks.
Steve Willford, project manager at Alaska West Express (part of the Lynden family of companies), says Alaska West Express provides heavy haul services "to, from, and within Alaska. With Lynden's integrated marine and air services, our heavy haul capabilities include intermodal services that extend beyond where the road ends."...