Happy 2020! Jack has been seeing very cold temperatures up on the Dalton. It’s been as cold as 40 below around Fairbanks but closer to 60 below up north. Here are some photos from the recent weeks. Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and has a terrific 2020!
Jack’s been doing a little bit of heavy haul this past week. He took a 95 foot cement panel from Anchorage to Fairbanks. The panel was just one small part of a natural gas tank that is being built in south Fairbanks, as you can see in the below photos. It was about a foot of cement poured on a thick metal sheet that is slightly curved. We stood on it to take photos.
Jack Jessee, just hauled a cement panel to Fairbanks for the new LNG tank.
LNG tank at Fairbanks Natural Gas under construction. The large crane on the far right picks up the panels first.
Two cranes and multiple man lifts, moving in coordination to place a panel (on the right).
The yellow strongback is being attached to the cement panel on the back of Jack’s truck.
Picking up the panel.
The strongback prevents it from cracking when they pick the cement panel up.
One cement panel is 95 feet long and 8 feet wide and it runs the full height of the tank.
A cement panel is being secured.
A crane and parts of Jack’s truck are in front of the inside of the tank.
The panels are held in place by 4 temporary supports (2 on top and 2 in the middle).
Here’s a new video of Jack driving into Fairbanks the other night, sped up so it’s not too tedious. It’s pretty late so not much is going on. Some trucks cleaning up the Steese Highway, that’s about it. It’s in HD so don’t let YouTube show you a poor quality video, if you have decent internet. And it does have some music on it so you may want to reduce the volume if you are sensitive to that. When you add music through YouTube, you can’t determine the volume, so it’s loud.
Recently Fairbanks and the surrounding areas have been getting a lot of rain. So when Jack and I visited the Chena Dam the other day the floodgates had been lowered in order to prevent high water from flowing downstream toward Fairbanks. This results in the river backing up into the reservoir area behind the dam but saves Fairbanks as it has many times since it was built almost 40 years ago.
Dermot Cole of Alaska Dispatch News wrote in 2014 when the floodgates were lowered then that Fairbanks’ “most effective flood insurance policy … takes the form of an unusual dam with four 30-ton gates that operate like giant garage doors, stemming the flow of high water when the river rises. The floodgates are one element in an extensive federal flood control project that cost a quarter-billion dollars by the time of its completion in 1979.”
Click on the first photo and scroll to the right to read the captions.
This is the reservoir (floodway) that is now filled because the floodgates were lowered.
A little bit of green is still above water.
That’s our rig in the parking lot where you can access the top of the levee.
This shows Jack standing on the 7 mile long “Moose Creek Dam,” the levee.
The floodgates are in the top right corner of this map. We were a mile or two away from them on what’s labeled here as the Moose Creek Dam, the long straight levee that leads to the Tanana River. Map from US Army Corps of Engineers.
Here are the floodgates.
Another map, also from the US Army Corps of Engineers website. It shows a more realistic perspective of the whole setup.
On the opposite bank there’s debris that’s been picked out of the water on the other side of the floodgates.
Looking toward Fairbanks.
This is a terrific area with tons of biking/walking trails, boat rentals, a beach, camping, etc. There are day use volunteer hosts who take care of this lovely place.
Not everyone gets to see the floodgates being used on such a beautiful day. We’d be willing to bet that most Fairbanksans haven’t even been here.
From top to bottom they say: “Tanana River 40 miles”, “Yukon River 250 miles” and “Spawning Grounds next 35 miles.” Kings actually run through here as well as chum salmon and you can view them from the floodgates when they finally get here from the ocean each summer. I love the artwork but the salmon look more like silvers and pinks than kings and chum. 🙂
Now we’re on the other side of the floodgates looking down to the reservoir.
Volunteers maintain this area for wildlife, cutting hay, putting up nest boxes, burning to keep the brush low.
Not all of the hay got moved before the flood.
The sign shows the high water mark which was in 1992, the only time overflow water made it all the way to the Tanana River.
This is the side of the Chena River floodgates where water is building up and you can see tons of debris that has to be picked out by the crane. They sometimes offer it to the public for firewood.
This dam handles water coming from 1500 square miles of drainage.
According to adn.com, Fairbanks used to flood every 5th spring or so and this was actually desired so that barges could make it farther upstream. Fairbanks was founded by PT Barnette when he was stranded because of low water and a year later he struck gold.
At the end of a walkway that juts into the floodway someone has placed a beautiful memorial bench to someone named Joyce.
For more info: a slideshow on the Army Corp website and this pamphlet for a little more in depth information.
Neither Jack nor I have seen these lampreys (thank goodness) but lately they’ve been found in strange locations like parking lots and front lawns. They spawn at this time of year in the local rivers and Alaska Fish & Game says most likely they are being dropped by seagulls who can’t manage to hold the wiggling creatures. Terrifying, that’s all I have to say about it!
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities photo via Alaska Dispatch News
Governor Walker declared the situation on the Dalton Highway a state disaster.
According to Alaska Dispatch News, this will enable the state to bring up private contractors to help. 700 to 800 loads are backed up in Fairbanks. Jack is on his way up there right now. Check out this article, it shows some aerial footage of the road.