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Fairbanks Department of Transportation discusses passing lane construction for ahead of ore transportation

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:53 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Department of Transportation (DOT) attended a public forum held by Kinross Alaska where they shared information and answered questions regarding Kinross’ proposed ore transportation plan.

According to Caitlyn Frye, Public Information Officer for the Alaska Department of Transportation, DOT continues to hold all organizations to laws and regulations for transportation.

“Our Commercial Vehicle Compliance Division ensures compliance with the laws regarding commercial vehicles in the State of Alaska,” Frye explained. “There’s a lot of regulations, federal regulations, state regulations, about commercial vehicles - and our folks here, through the waystations and inspections of commercial vehicles, ensure that they’re complying with the law and are operating safely.”

Frye continued, “Now Kinross at this point has proposed doing their ore haul with legal loads, and so that means they do not need to get a permit from us. We don’t actually even have a legal route to require them to have a permit. They’re operating on the roads just like you or I would.”

DOT has also announced moving up planned construction of passing lanes along the proposed transportation route between Fairbanks and Tok.

Carl Heim, Engineering Manager for Alaska Department of Transportation elaborated, “This is in the preliminary design phase, and we’re working through drilling [and] looking at material sites. While the design is ongoing, we’ll probably be finished this summer. We’d be looking to complete it by the end of this year, and then bid it, and then be in construction by early ‘23.”

The passing lanes are projected to increase safety and prevent congestion on the Richardson Highway by allowing opportunities for residents to pass trucks transporting cargo, including trucks from Kinross.

“In 2018, there were about 1,500 cars a day on the Richardson Highway between Fairbanks and Delta,” Heim continued. “20% of those were trucks already at the Birch Lakes maintenance station. So there’s already a high percentage of trucks on this corridor. Adding additional trucks to that is probably going to increase potentially some speed disparity, but it’s already a large truck corridor and the passing lanes are just going to give people more opportunities to pass.”

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