DEADHORSE — Unprecedented flooding continues to interfere with daily operations on the North Slope oil patch after surging waters wiped away swaths of the Dalton Highway and isolated a section of Deadhorse, the jumping-off point for the sprawling industrial region.
“This is just epic,” said Mike Coffey, commander of the unified incident command, a response team consisting of the state, the North Slope Borough and oil companies. “People who have been here for decades say they’ve never seen anything like it.”
The state has estimated the costs of the damage and repairs since March at $5.1 million. The federal government may pay for much of that, since the icing and flooding on the highway has been declared a disaster, said Coffey, the director of state transportation maintenance and operations.
Jack said “Holy Sh**!” when he looked at the Alaska Department of Transportation page today. Not because of the photos of the road flooding but when he saw this:
2015: Dalton Highway 401-414 Reconstruction, will start this summer and is a two year project. Construction contract award is $27 million. The scope of the project is to reconstruct the Dalton Highway from Mile Post 401-414, improvements include raising the grade seven feet, replacing culverts and surfacing the road.
2016: Dalton Highway 379-401 Reconstruction, scheduled for construction in 2016, estimated cost is $40-50 million. The scope of the project is to reconstruct the Dalton Highway from Mile Post 379-401, improvements including raising the grade seven feet, replacing culverts and surfacing the road.
Here are two aerial photos of the flooding, both from the Alaska DOT webpage. Click on the photos for more info on the captions.
On the left you can see the remnants of a berm that was created by excavators to hopefully hold the water back and direct it away from the road. But the water has now spilled over the road and broken through the berm. You can also see how the road is washing away. From AK DOT webpage.
On the top of the photo are more berms that were created to direct the water away from the road. From AK DOT webpage.
This is a video from trucker John Slater that shows how the Dalton looked last Saturday. The road is now closed because of the overflowing Sag River making it impassable once again. See prior posts for more info.
These photos are the last of the ones Jack took from when the road was in bad condition. It’s much improved now, to the point where Jack says there’s nothing to take photos of. When the melt starts up there though, who knows what will happen.
April 16th, Jack is heading out of Prudhoe. It was a cloudy morning.
The excavator is moving snow and slush away from the road to keep the water flowing to where they want it to go.
That’s all trucks waiting to get into Prudhoe.
This is the next day, heading back into Prudhoe.
These excavators are digging ditches and creating berms to hold the water back. Overflow from the Sag River has been harassing truckers and the State of Alaska for weeks before this.
Jack says this guy is scraping back the ice to find the road.
The delineator is about 5 feet tall so this shows how high the water got before it froze.
This photo is grainy, but you can see the left delineators showing a lot more than the others.
Here are the rest of the photos from when Jack drove through the flooded area, the portion of the road that was recently closed because of the overflow of the Sag River onto the Dalton. There is a HUGE tracked vehicle that Jack says can float! I can’t see how that’s possible but supposedly, if it breaks through the ice, it won’t sink to the bottom of whatever it is on. In his case it’s a matter of a few feet to the ground. But it’s just hard to imagine either way.
Click on the first one and scroll to the right.
Jack is heading toward Prudhoe so the Sag River overflow is coming from the right.
This is the tracked vehicle that Jack says can float. He called it an excavator with float tracks but it probably has a specific name.
You can see multiple berms created by the excavators.
This plowing equipment is the State of Alaska’s – they are still there plowing the road. They take care of the road and the private contractors take care of the flooding.
Coming up on the line that is heading out of Prudhoe.
Jack is on the other side of the flooded area now. This is what the road is supposed to look like at this time of year.
These photos are from when Jack was stuck at the road closure. He was waiting there 3 days to get unloaded. As you can see, it was a beautiful couple of days, albeit cold ones. The rigs in the distance are tractor-like vehicles on tracks with tanks to take the fuel Jack and the other truckers are hauling back to Prudhoe. The road is now open during the day. Click on the first and scroll to the right. More info on the captions.
Jack finds a high perch to get a better view of the offloading up ahead.
He said this photo was an accident but I thought it was interesting since it shows what he was standing on.
Jack took a panoramic shot which makes it look like the road is curved. It’s actually straight.
Jack and several other truckers waited there over 70 hours.
What a beautiful day! A cold one though, since it was only about 10 degrees and the wind was brisk.
These tankers were running back and forth to Prudhoe, transferring the fuel the trucks are carrying while the road was closed.
Jack says each of these tankers on the left carry about 2500 gallons. He carries 10,000 if he is full.
This one can carry 2500 each tank.
Jack was hoping this guy was coming to unload him but no, he must have been going to fill up some other vehicles and equipment down the road.
Jack is heading up as soon as he gets stocked up on supplies. He heard they are escorting trucks through right now, even fuel trucks. That could change at any time though, and he could be stuck there, who knows. Last time he was there for 77 hours.
Here is a photo from a few days ago taken by a friend in Prudhoe. (Thanks Joe) Yikes! Fairbanks is at about $3.24.