We will look at the real cost of the Knik Arm Bridge and we will build it. Alaska will become a leader in the Cut and Cover roadway industry by building such systems to move traffic through Anchorage and other such places but in new and innovative ways. Proven “Theater of Operations” bridge and road construction will open up the Western Susitna Valley as well as other areas and will skirt around the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
Our roads here in Alaska, that is the ones that actually exist, are in pathetic condition. Why is this so? We pack the dirt down hard, then lay non-reinforced roadway right on top of it. The result is that with every hard rain season, every frost heave and every earthquake turns those cracker-like roads into something akin to a moonscape. In most states, likely all other states, roads are reinforced with Rebar and road mats. Road mats, or road reinforcing mats, are those fence-looking contrivances over which concrete is poured and which hold the concrete together. But even with that, the earthquakes and frost heaves would destroy our roads.
So, we take a cue from the folks in Scandinavia and places like Northern Germany. We begin to rebuild our roads a bit at a time, making them very deep, maybe up to 3 feet deep and reinforced with Rebar and road mats at the six inch and two foot level. Thus the road will rise and fall as a unit, not crack apart like a Saltine.
The obvious question is this: How can we afford this? The answer is rather simple. We change the way we do business and the way we build roads. The four-lane highway between St. Louis and Minneapolis was built systematically and in such a way that from the moment it began, construction never stopped or took a break until completion and it moved forward at about a foot per minute or faster. If they can do it, we can do it. If we can build an oil pipeline using 1970s technology, and inventing new technologies along the way, but doing so systematically, we can do this.
We will cease to argue about it and we will build the Knik Arm Bridge. It is time, and far past time for such a bridge. The Matsu and Anchorage will continue to grow and if we do not do something that growth will choke us out. But, before we do that, we will look at the real price of the bridge. We are given figures and often, maybe usually, they are correct, but we’ll find out for sure. Then we’ll act. However, this alone gets you only part of the way.
When we build it, it must be at least four lanes if not six, and if only four must be given room to expand side to side at some later date. But traffic coming off said bridge will funnel thousands of cars directly into downtown Anchorage causing another major issue.
So, we will develop the technology and systems to become the world leader in the Cut and Cover industry. Two lanes will peal off of the bridge and traffic will be filtered into downtown. The main road, however, will continue southward under what is now Minnesota coming out at Westchester Lagoon temporarily, then going subsurface again just under where one approaches West High School. Then it will continue on as a Cut and Cover Roadway to the vicinity of International Airport Road. The same would be true for the roadway as it becomes I Street coming north into downtown and then on to the Knik Arm Crossing.
A similar C&C can allow the eight lane Highway to Highway project to be completed and the construction would move forward at an easy twelve feet per hour, and eventually, perhaps as fast as a foot per minute.
In places like the Western Susitna Valley, where we wish to open up farmland and facilities for industrial level greenhousing and hydroponic farming of foodstuffs, roadways can be put into place using “theater of operations” road construction systems such as Envirogrid and Bailey Bridges. Envirogrid is the system used by Combat Engineers to build airfields on which one can land C130s. It can handle anything Alaska can throw at it and costs $200,000 per mile to lay. Not the $5 million plus per mile we pay for two lane roads now.
Bailey Bridge can be built to handle two lanes of traffic for less than $3,000 per linear foot and accomplished with hand tools and done in hours, maybe days, not months and years, and is built on one side of a stream and pushed across a bit at a time. Please refer to the videos below.
BAILEY BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION
For those who say that new ideas for road construction cost too much, I say that we should do what we can afford, but do it right this time.