SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Road-building season soon to begin on Annette Island


March 30, 2007
Friday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - Road construction will soon begin on Annette Island as the Department of Defense begins the tenth season of Operation Alaskan Road. Approximately 900 military men and women - comprising the joint force of reserve and active-duty component troops - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps - will help build a 14.5-mile road that will link Metlakatla with a new ferry boat dock on the north end of the island.

Approximately 13.5 miles of road are under construction in various phases, with military teams clearing the land and then drilling, blasting, filling, compacting, and installing culverts. The military is scheduled to wrap up its portion of the road after the end of this construction season. It will then turn the project over to the Federal Highway Administration for final surfacing.

jpg Annette Island

A September 2005 view along the Walden Point Road project site, Annette Island.
Photo by Maj. Richard C. Sater, U.S. Air Force Reserve

Construction units, including participants from Missouri and Oregon, will begin rotating in every two weeks in mid May. Construction season is slated to run through late August.

The U.S. military participates in the project under the Innovative Readiness Training Program administered by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. IRT is designed to promote civil-military cooperation through projects that contribute to, and enhance, military unit training and readiness and fill a need that is not otherwise being met.

The road was originally proposed in 1946, when a route was surveyed by the Alaska Road Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers. Though the route was surveyed two additional times, the road project itself was not undertaken until 1998 under the IRT program.

United States Pacific Command designated Alaskan Command, located at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, as Joint Task Force - Operation Alaskan Road (JTF-AR). The Alaskan Command has overall responsibility for managing the program. In turn, JTF-AR designated a Joint Force Engineering Component Command (JFECC) to lead the engineering and support operations on Annette Island. Missouri Army National Guard stepped up to fill the key leadership positions and provide engineering expertise. The Federal Highway Administration is responsible for road design, civilian contracts, and quality assurance. JTF-AR success is dependent on support from many other federal and state agencies and sources.

The mission of the Joint Task Force is to provide safe, valid joint training for all participating individuals and units in the road construction project.

To date, more than 11,000 military service members have been trained as part of this project. And that training has proved to be invaluable. "We've received feedback from several units that they training they received here has been instrumental in their successes in building roads while deployed to Iraq and or Afghanistan," said Dave Bich, OAR planner.


Source of News:

Alaskan Command - Elmendorf Air Force Base

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