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construction,” he says. “The subsurface has failed beneath the gravel runway, and the town is kind of bumped up against it.” The project will relocate the facility farther from town and will include a new gravel runway. From a maintenance standpoint, gravel runways are preferred in rural Alaska, Binder says. “There’s just no good ground out there to draw on material you need for subsurface,” he says, noting most of the communities are


on swampy ground underlain by permafrost. Construction costs in rural Alaska are staggering, he says. Contractors are limited on what kind of material is available and how far it is from the construction site. Gravel in rural Alaska can cost up to $400 per cubic yard delivered, compared with $22 per cubic yard in other states. Insulation placed under the gravel to keep the permafrost melting can add $1 million to the cost of a project, ADOT&PF says.

“Most places you can go a mile down the road and get your material,” Binder says, but not in many rural areas of the state, especially southwest Alaska. In addition, mobilizing and demobilizing the equipment can take a year. Some projects have to be done in phases to allow material to settle and stabilize. “That’s time the contractor can’t use that equipment elsewhere,” he says. “We have new construction projects, and then the maintenance is ongoing as well,”

Alaska Business Monthly | March

Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  
Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  

“Forever Alaskan” Carol Gore, president and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority, is a quintessential leader in creating affordable housing f...