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Alaska’s lifeline closed!

April 9, 2015


In all of America there is but one last truly untamed frontier road and it is called the Dalton Highway. The word highway is quite overstated here because the 414 miles of the Dalton traverses some of the most rugged, majestic vistas this nation has to offer while having, for the most part only one stop on those 414 miles for food, fuel and emergencies. It is a road borne out of necessity when they built the Trans-Alaskan pipeline and only opened to public use in 1995. But those fortunate few visitors who have traveled it have been granted a glimpse of the handiwork of God and leave Alaska with memories that will last a lifetime.

Today that road is a lifeline for the hundreds of men and woman working in the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay, and that lifeline has been closed for over a week with many hundreds of tractor trailers stuck on there for days. Noting the importance of that lone roadway to the top of the world in Alaska, the governor has declared a state of emergency.

What started more than a week ago with overnight road closures morphed into a temporary one lane highway has now for many days shut down the delivery of critical supplies to the financial heart of Alaska, Prudhoe Bay. While stranding hundreds of tractor trailers with loads ranging from drilling supplies to the very food that keeps Prudhoe Bay alive, down in Fairbanks more than 700 loads are waiting to move to the farthest town North American.

Now one may ask why I think a road closure should warrant a blog posting, I realize that unless you have traveled this frontier road you will never truly understand. Personally I have for years driven the 1,000 mile round trip from Fairbanks to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay a couple times each year just to rekindle the sense of adventure this road offers, and I am concerned for those hundreds of people stranded on Americas road to the top of the world.


**New article about the Dalton Highway

**A short video clip of some of what the Dalton has to offer.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Dwight permalink
    April 10, 2015 1:09 am

    Hi Pete…What was the cause of closure?


  2. April 10, 2015 8:23 am

    Not a good situation and while something that occurs every year it is both very early and extreme this cycle. I heard an interview with an ADOT spokesperson in which she stated it has never been so severe in terms of early ice/snow melt atop still frozen ground in the Haul Road’s 40 plus years of existence. I also heard the staged loads in the Fairbanks area were up to almost 900..!!


  3. April 10, 2015 10:06 pm

    Wow! I had no idea this had happened. I imagine there really isn’t a good way for those long semis to just “turn around,” either. Yikes!


  4. Eileen McNeilage permalink
    April 11, 2015 7:42 am

    Pete, yes or yes I do remember hauling the horses down there above Cold Foot and using a functioning gravel pit for our staging area…as it happened the weather was one of those foggy, “can’t see the hand in front of your face” type of fogs,, rain, etc etc…we spent one day and night out there in the middle of nowhere, Les had to let his lead horse find the way to the road in order for head for the trailer, went to Cold Foot to wait out the weather, even got my picture taken on the back of a horse in front of the “Arctic Circle” sign, what memories, I can only imagine what a mess that would be with all traffic at a stand still in the snow, in the sub zero temps not knowing when all would be over, staying warm and fed would be the big one. Thanks for the alert, had no idea that things were so drastic up there. And we thought that we had problems down here.


  5. Jon permalink
    April 11, 2015 11:01 am

    Been keeping up on this via the News-Miner & the link from the Arctic Cam to ADoT road reports.
    I’m sure it’s reaching the critical stage right now with spring break-up to follow on the rest of this road.
    We’re planning a Sept. trip to Alaska & the main focus of our trip is the Fairbanks to Prudhoe run to celebrate my 40th year of first driving that road while working the pipeline.
    The pic sort of reminds me of the Red River flooding of ’97 in North Dakota of water flooding over still frozen & ice covered fields.
    Not only is supply to the oil fields critical but the people in the trucks stranded must be on the short supply of food & other supplies themselves.
    Once the road is open then the repair/reconstruction is going to take place with further delays.


  6. April 25, 2015 8:09 pm

    With these people stranded how do they survive the cold. Food and drink… nevermind the bathroom facility.


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