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Tetlin to Fort Knox Corridor: FAQS

Q: Is there a formal trucking plan being considered at this time?
A: While Kinross and DOT&PF have had preliminary conversations about their plans to haul ore from Tetlin to Fort Knox beginning 2024, Kinross has not shared a formal or final proposal at this time. Specific details, including exact expected loaded trips per day and precise truck configurations expected on specific route segments will be important to any analysis. Modeling impacts can be addressed as part of the corridor analysis.


Q: Are Kinross and DOT&PF partnering?
A: No. Kinross is a private developer. 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.  We view communicating on transportation issues with any interested party as an essential part of our public service. We frequently participate in meetings with industry, community, or user groups. 


Q: Is there a trucking route identified?
A: The department has had preliminary discussions about bridges and routes, but more details are needed, such as truck configurations and loads per day before final recommendations can be made about a given route. This can be evaluated as part of the corridor analysis.


Q: Will you hold public comment if Kinross applies for a driveway permit? What about for commercial vehicle permits?
A: There is no public notice process required for driveway permit applications. However, the department is willing to issue a public notice in the event one is applied for on the Alaska Highway. There is also no public notice process for commercial vehicle permits. Commercial vehicle permits for oversize/overweight loads are issued by DOT&PF with the public interest in mind.


Q: Is the state liable for crashes that occur with commercial vehicles?
A: Commercial vehicle and State of Alaska liability on highways is typically addressed through Federal and State laws and regulations pertaining to commercial vehicles. 


Q: Has the Federal Highway Administration weighed in on the trucking plan?
A: The Federal Highway Administration will be invited to participate on the transportation advisory committee, and federal transportation funds will be utilized to conduct the corridor analysis.


Q: Can the department restrict this use of the highways?
A: Federal and State laws regarding commercial vehicles govern commercial uses on our highway system. Recommending changes to laws and regulations could be addressed in a corridor analysis. 


Q: Why hasn’t the department pursued a railroad extension for the ore transportation?
A: DOT&PF supports the development of transportation infrastructure throughout Alaska wherever appropriate, including railroad. We have shared your request with the AKRR Board of Directors for consideration, as they are the appropriate organization to discuss development of additional routes of the current system.


Q: What are you doing to protect the children at the bus stops along the route?
A: All vehicles, including trucks, are required to stop for a school bus with red flashing lights on an undivided roadway, in all directions. 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 transportation advisory committee to ensure school bus stops along this route are addressed in the planning effort. 


Q: What projects are in the STIP to address this corridor?
A: Highway project funding is identified in our Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Amendments of the STIP are located here: https://dot.alaska.gov/stwdplng/cip/stip/stipplans/

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.


Q: How will DOT &PF regulate the proposed truck traffic between Tetlin and Ft. Knox?
A: 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. In regard to the inclement weather regulation, (17 AAC 25.014), Interior Alaska weather and conditions can change quickly over a span of 250 miles, and trucking companies who operate on these routes are familiar with these conditions.

Any trucking plan should have protocols established for when and how to make decisions about ceasing operations due to weather conditions. If a CVC inspector made contact with a driver of a long combination vehicle at a weigh station and inclement weather conditions were present, the driver would be advised of the regulations.


Q: How will the quality of air be impacted by the increased traffic?
A: Questions about the Clean Air Act should to be directed to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.  The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will be invited to participate on the transportation advisory committee.


Q: What route will truck traffic take when passing through the Fairbanks metropolitan area?
A: The Mitchell/Peger/Johansen/Steese route is the designated truck route through Fairbanks, so this isn’t 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.

As we proceed with a planning effort we will look at these items more carefully, particularly because the Steese Highway at Chena River is undergoing a deck rehabilitation in summer 2022.


Q: Will Kinross be charged for continued maintenance and improvements of the proposed route?
A: 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. A user fee would require legislation and involve a user fee for other businesses and industries as well.