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industry in Alaska because the necessary equipment and supplies cannot be delivered during the most opportune weather time. This can put a contractor up to a month-and-a-half behind on any given project. It’s just something Alaskan contractors have learned to live with.”

Safety on the Road

Highway and transportation safety has always been a driving force behind DOT operations. Gene Carlson, vice president of special projects at Carlile Transportation Systems says their company is a stickler for safety. At Carlile, every heavy haul load begins its journey with a planning meeting that includes the driver, load supervisor and often times an official from DOT. “We like to establish a moving plan that covers who is doing what, when they are going to do it, and how it will be hauled,” Carlson says. Safety concerns can range anywhere from road conditions, weather, proper rigging, vehicle maintenance and driver experience. “It’s important to lay out all expectation about operations and


safety ahead of time,” he added. In Alaska, every winter is different. Sometimes it is heavy snowfalls, blowing snow, slick roads, or soft conditions that can challenge a driver attached to a heavy haul load. An experienced driver will know how to drive in most any weather condition. Sometimes it is a matter of slowing down or even pulling over until a storm passes. According to Carlson, you might lose time, but there is no job worth risking anyone’s life or the equipment over. Equipment and technology improvements over the years have had a positive impact on the safety of heavy haul operations, according to Thompson. Better hydraulics systems assist in the balancing of loads and specialized equipment is often used to move large freight through the tight turns of the Dalton Highway, also known as the Haul Road. Load rigging is a critical safety concern when tying down a large heavy haul load. On some massive loads, simple tie downs won’t get the job done safely and welders are brought in to secure unstable loads for the long

haul. “Well secured, balanced loads are extremely important in ensuring your freight delivery makes it down the road safely,” Carlson says. Push trucks are used to help move freight over the mountainous regions of the Haul Road. These well-choreographed operations often use three to four push trucks to assist in giving the heavy haul load enough momentum to crest the difficult terrain in areas like Coldfoot and Atigun Pass. “It takes a highly skilled driver to be able to handle the pressure of being a push-truck operator. With so many vehicles operating simultaneously to push an extraordinarily heavy load over a pass leaves a high probability that something could go wrong,” Thompson says. “Accidents do happen out on the road,” Carlson says. “Trucks slide off of icy roadways or are forced to ditch themselves to avoid collisions with other motorists. Any number of things could happen out there, but given the diverse driving terrain and the danger involved in hauling these heavy loads, the accident rates are very low.” • Alaska Business Monthly • April 2012

April - 2012 - Alaska Business Monthly  

Alaska Business Monthly’s 2012 Corporate 100 annual special section begins on page 86. Top citizens of industry are highlighted in this annu...