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An ore haul on public highways is unsafe

To the editor: As we celebrate the return of the sun, we look ahead to our famous Fairbanks summers and the scenic roads and highways we all use to travel our great state. But today these same roads pose real life dangers during our long, dark, and snowy winter months.

Tragically, in the last few weeks, we have experienced horrific traffic accidents involving large trucks. These accidents have occurred, not only on local roads, but also on what is unarguably the safest rural road in Alaska, the Parks Highway.

To the editor: As we celebrate the return of the sun, we look ahead to our famous Fairbanks summers and the scenic roads and highways we all use to travel our great state. But today these same roads pose real life dangers during our long, dark, and snowy winter months.

Tragically, in the last few weeks, we have experienced horrific traffic accidents involving large trucks. These accidents have occurred, not only on local roads, but also on what is unarguably the safest rural road in Alaska, the Parks Highway.

My thoughts turn away from these unfortunate fatal accidents and to the proposed large truck ore haul between Tetlin and Fort Knox. This ore haul is planned to take place on the ALCAN, Richardson and Steese highways, rural roads nowhere near the improved condition of the lower Parks Highway.

The Kinross plan is initially 70,080 trips every year of double-trailered ore trucks, 95-feet long and weighing 164,900 pounds loaded. 48 will be on the road at any one time for decades, not just the four to five years Kinross hopes you’ll believe. These trucks will pass over World War II bridges built in 1944 without any design considerations whatsoever of handling the weight and frequency of the proposed ore haul traffic. According to DOT’s Weigh in Motion scales, (alaskatrafficdata.drakewell.com – WIM active) in 2021, 38 double trailer trips per day crossed the Gerstle, Johnson and Robertson River legacy bridges; few, if any, weighed 164,900 pounds. The new Kinross’ heavy ore haul will quintuple this number to 230 trips per day, a 505% increase.

How can this ore haul proposal be called anything but unprecedented, unproven and unsafe? What happens when the Johnson River bridge, whose foundation has already been rated as unstable (bridgereports.com/1000227), collapses? How many lives must be lost before we realize that trying to mix general traffic in with industrial-sized ore trucks, which will pass by any one point every 7½ minutes on these two-lane rural roads, is unacceptable in our arctic environment? Please tell our governor, your representative, your senator, and our borough mayor to force alternative plans. Then plan on attending a Corridor Safety Committee public meeting early next year.

For more information, please go to www.safealaskahighways.org.

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