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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: Is there a formal trucking plan being considered at this time?
Answer: Kinross has informed DOT&PF of their intent to haul ore from Tetlin to Fort Knox (see Questions 3 and 13 on trucking route and route through Fairbanks area). They have provided a configuration of a 95-foot double trailer. DOT&PF has confirmed on paper this is a legal load per Alaska law on the route proposed, but highway weights and dimensions are confirmed as legal once measured and inspected when driving on state highways.

Question 2: What is the relationship between DOT&PF and Kinross?
Answer: Alaska DOT&PF is a public agency. Kinross and Peak Gold, LLC are private entities. The department does not speak for Kinross, nor is it able to answer questions about their proposal. Each organization is responsible for our own statements and information provided.

DOT&PF views communicating on transportation issues with any stakeholder or interested party as an essential part of our public service. We frequently participate in meetings with industry, community, or user groups such as the commercial trucking industry, local Chambers of Commerce, or consulting or contracting associations. DOT&PF and Kinross are developing a a Memorandum of Understanding outlining its relationship and issues they will communicate on regarding the proposed Manh Choh ore haul. This document will be published in our library when fully signed.

Question 3: What is DOT&PF doing to evaluate this proposal?
Answer: DOT&PF has commissioned an independent analysis of the Alaska/Richardson/Steese Highways through Kinney Engineering, LLC, an Alaskan engineering consultant. This analysis, titled the Alaska/Richardson/Steese Corridor Action Plan, will evaluate near and long-term term plans for the corridor, incorporate public input and provide recommendations for short term and long term transportation solutions for identified issues.

A Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) has been established for this study to ensure representation from affected communities and user groups along the route, including emergency medical services, local governments, and advocacy groups. The committee may choose to make recommendations outside of the existing DOT&PF regulatory purview and could include changes to regulations or statute, public safety, or health.

The Corridor Action Plan is expected to be complete in late 2023 and will include several public engagement opportunities throughout its development.

Question 4: Is there a trucking route identified?
Answer: DOT&PF has advised a route through Fairbanks (see Question 13) and understands from Kinross they will take their proposed configuration all the way to Fort Knox Mine near MP 20 Steese Highway. The 95’ overall length configuration proposed is legal for the route proposed per 17 AAC 25. Route alternatives may be evaluated in the Corridor Action Plan, but the route identified above is allowed by Alaska law for the proposed configuration and route:

  • Alaska Highway to Delta Junction (17 AAC 25.014(a)(3))
  • Richardson Highway, Delta Junction to Mitchell Expressway (17 AAC 25.014(a)(5))
  • Mitchell Expressway to Prudhoe Bay, inclusive of Steese/Elliott junction (17AAC 25.014(c) (3)(A))
  • Steese Highway from Elliott junction to MP 30 Steese Highway (17 AAC 25.014(f)(5))

Question 5: Will you hold a public comment period if Kinross applies for a driveway permit anywhere on the route? What about for commercial vehicle permits?
Answer: There is no public notice process required for driveway permit applications or DOT&PF’s intent to issue a permit. DOT&PF provided a courtesy public notice of the driveway application to the Manh Choh mine’s access  Alaska Highway and has provided Kinross’ voluntarily submission of a Traffic Impact Analysis for that driveway in our library.

There is no public notice process for commercial vehicle permits. Commercial vehicle permits for oversize/overweight loads are issued by DOT&PF Commercial Vehicle Compliance (CVC) with the public interest in mind.

Question 6: Has the Federal Highway Administration had input on this proposal?
Answer: The Federal Highway Administration has been invited to participate on the TAC (see Question 3) and federal transportation funds will be utilized to complete the Corridor Action Plan.

Question 7: Can DOT&PF restrict this proposed use of Alaskan highways?
Answer: Federal and State laws regarding commercial vehicles govern uses on our highway system. Recommending changes to laws and regulations could be addressed in the Corridor Action Plan.

Question 8: Why hasn’t DOT&PF pursued a railroad extension for the ore transportation?
Answer: DOT&PF supports the development of transportation infrastructure throughout Alaska wherever appropriate, including railroad. We have shared this suggestion with the Alaska Railroad Board of Directors for consideration, as they are the appropriate organization to evaluate and pursue development of new railroad routes.

Question 9: What is being done to protect the children at the bus stops along the route?
Answer: All vehicles, including trucks, are required by law to stop (in all directions) for a school bus with red flashing lights on an undivided roadway. No school bus stops exist on four lane segments of road of the proposed route (approximately Eielson AFB to Fox.)

We have invited the appropriate local representatives to participate on the TAC to ensure school bus stops along this route are addressed in the planning effort. The extent of stops, and any mitigating factors will be addressed in the Corridor Action Plan.

Question 10: What projects are in the STIP to address this corridor?
Answer: Highway project funding is identified in our Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Amendments of the STIP are located here:

STIP Amendments are based on many considerations including public input, project delivery schedules, changes in funding needs or timeframes needed, and regional and statewide priorities. The Alaska, Richardson, and Steese Highways have numerous STIP projects identified as is appropriate for routes along the National Highway System (Steese Highway), inclusive of the Interstate Highway System (Alaska, Richardson, and Parks/Mitchell Expressway).

Question 11: How will DOT &PF regulate the proposed truck traffic between Tetlin and Ft. Knox?
Answer: DOT&PF regulates commercial vehicle operations in Alaska through its Commercial Vehicle Compliance (CVC) division that operates nine weigh stations on the highway system throughout the state. Three of those proposed stations are along the proposed haul route: Alaska Highway at Tok, Richardson Highway near Fairbanks, and Steese Highway at Fox.

State laws pertaining to commercial vehicles are found in Chapter 25 of Title 17, Alaska Administrative Code (AAC). Federal Motor Carrier Regulations under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations are adopted by AAC and as per the authority granted under Alaska Statutes.

CVC enforces commercial vehicle weights, size, driver qualifications and hazardous materials as defined under 49 CFR Parts 171-180. They also enforce any seasonally imposed weight restrictions.

Question 12: How will the quality of air be impacted by the increased traffic?
Answer: FAST Planning recently conducted an air quality conformity analysis for their 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. This emissions analysis evaluates impacts associated with transportation projects as well as the proposed trucking plan. It is open to review and public comment and we encourage the public to do so before February 21, 2023.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is part of the TAC. General questions about the Clean Air Act should be directed to DEC.

Question 13: What route will truck traffic take when passing through the Fairbanks metropolitan area?
Answer: The Mitchell/Peger/Johansen/Steese route is the designated truck route through Fairbanks, so this is not a recommendation specific to Manh Choh. It is the primary truck route (and signed as such around Fairbanks) for two reasons 1) In general, the Steese Expressway Bridge at Chena River does not have as much load carrying capacity for larger trucks as the Peger Road at Chena River does, so we advise trucks to take Peger. 2) The Steese between Airport Way and Johansen Expressway has several closely spaced traffic signals, and this segment has higher average annual daily traffic than the Mitchell Expressway between Richardson Highway and Peger, Peger, and Johansen Expressway. Steese Highway traffic numbers are much lower north of Johansen than they are between Airport Way and Johansen. Therefore, using the designated truck route results in overall less congestion, particularly at peak traffic periods.

Question 14: Will Kinross be charged for continued maintenance and improvements of the proposed route?
Answer: It is part of DOT&PF’s mission to Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure to keep our highways open and in operable condition for all of the public to legally use. At this time, there is no legal basis for the state to require Kinross to pay for improvements of the proposed route.

Question 15: Why isn’t this route being designated as an industrial use highway per 17 AAC 35?
Answer: Industrial use highways may be designated under 17 AAC 35.010 at DOT&PF’s discretion when it receives a petition from an interested party, and has not received such a petition. There is no requirement for anyone to submit a petition, and the designation only has an impact when a user intends to haul loads that do generally do not meet requirements of 17 AAC 25. If a road is designated as an industrial use highway, it would apply to all such users.

Question 16: Are the bridges on the proposed route capable of handling these trucks?
Answer: Bridges on the proposed route have been analyzed for the proposed configuration. At this time, DOT&PF has no intention of restricting loads for crossings on this route but monitors these and all bridges on our state’s highway network for conditions that may warrant increased monitoring or restrictions.

Bridges on the route with near term plans for replacement include:

  • Alaska Highway, Robertson River Bridge (built 1944)
  • Alaska Highway, Gerstle River Bridge (built 1944)
  • *Alaska Highway, Johnson River Bridge (built 1944)
  • Richardson Highway, Northbound Chena Flood Control Bridge (built 1977)
  • Steese Highway Chena Hot Springs Road Under Crossing (built 1978)

*The Johnson River Bridge is the only bridge project listed above that is currently shown in our STIP and is planned to begin construction in 2024. The other four bridges do not have any projected construction funding or construction year planned yet as they were initiated with funding to initiate design activities. If and when these bridges are identified in the STIP, DOT&PF will project budget and anticipated construction year for each. (See more on the STIP in Question 10).

The three Alaska Highway bridges noted above are inspected annually while the others are routinely inspected every other year. All of these bridges have historically presented a challenge for heavy hauls (over legal height, width or weight conducted under permit through CVC), and Robertson, Gerstle, and Johnson River are height and/or width restricted which is a limitation to commerce as well.

DOT&PF is responding to this issue by making plans to replace these bridges and eventually fund their design and construction through our STIP. The bridges proposed for replacement lie on the interstate route from Canada to the Interior and to the North Slope which are routes critical for all Alaskans as they connect communities, move people and goods, and deliver essential services. Addressing these bridges to ensure uninterrupted movements for all users is an essential part of DOT&PF’s mission to Keep Alaska Moving Through Service and Infrastructure.

Our expert team of bridge engineers ensures that these and all bridges are safe for the traveling public and closely evaluate all data available for any implications to public safety and to commerce. DOT&PF will make interim monitoring plans for the five bridges listed above until new bridges are in service to ensure any decisions that must be made with regard to bridge load restrictions are made proactively and with real-time data. DOT&PF will not hesitate to load restrict a bridge anywhere in the state to any type of vehicle load it believes is contributing to deterioration.