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Alaskan road project resumes on Annette Island
By Maj. Richard C. Sater


April 28, 2005

Camp Wy-Wuh, Alaska - Operation Alaskan Road is underway again as a joint task force resumes work this summer on a 14.5-mile road across the rugged terrain of Annette Island.

This seasonal project is in its ninth year, a continuing effort to make good on a 60-year-old promise by the Alaska Road Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers to the island's Metlakatla Indian Community.

jpg engineer units on road

Engineer units work on a section of the road to connect the
Metlakatla Indian Reservation on Annette Island, Alaska, to the ferry port.

Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps troops -- both active and Reserve -- are building the road to Alaska's only federally recognized Indian reservation. When completed, the road will connect the town of Metlakatla with the new ferry boat dock on the north end of Annette Island to provide quick and easy access to Ketchikan, Alaska's fourth-largest city, across the bay.

jpg section of road

Section of road being built this summer across rough terrain on Annette Island, Alaska, by
Soldiers of a joint task force

Approximately 12 miles of road are under construction in various phases, with military teams clearing the land and then drilling, blasting, filling, compacting, and installing culverts in preparation for final surfacing, which will be handled by the Federal Highway Administration. This year's training operation is scheduled to run until late September.

Construction units will begin rotating in late April every two weeks and run through late August to accomplish this year's mission.

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 circa 1946, when a route was surveyed by the Alaska Road Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers, according to information provided by Sol Atkinson, spokesman for the Metlakatla Indian Community. 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. The Alaskan Command has overall responsibility for managing the program.

In turn, JTF-AR designated a Joint Force Engineering Component Command 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.

jpg section of road

Section of road being built this summer on Annette Island, Alaska,
by Soldiers of a joint task force...

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 JTF is to provide safe, valid joint training for all participating individuals and units in the road construction project. To date, more than 9,700 service members have participated in the project.


Editor's note: U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard C. Sater serves with Joint Task Force Alaskan Road.


Source of News and Photographs: Army News Service

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