Construction of a new road to the Yukon River near Tanana is almost complete.
DOT Northern Region Spokesperson Meadow Bailey estimates the project is about 80 percent finished, with about 6 miles left to go before the road reaches the south bank of the Yukon across from Tanana.
The project is building 20 miles of new roadway and improving 14 miles of existing road, extending north and west out of Manley Hot Springs.
Bailey says the work schedule was thrown off by this summer’s wildfires.
“We lost about three week’s worth of work. We actually had to evacuate the project for a while because the fire was burning around the project and jumping back and forth across the road. So we expect the majority of the work to be done this year, but there may be some really minor things to be completed next year.”
Once the road reaches the south side of the Yukon, DOT has no further plans or funding for building any more of the long-debated “Road to Nome.” The proposed corridor for that road travels along the north side of the Yukon, necessitating a bridge or ferry to get vehicles across the river.
The road to Tanana was paid for under the Roads to Resources program, which began under Governor Frank Murkowski as a means to improve access to rural communities and to areas with potential for oil, gas, and mineral development. No additional funds have been put into the Roads to Resources program recently.
Bailey says that DOT will watch how the road impacts the lifestyle and economy of Tanana before extending the road any further west along the Yukon River corridor.
“We’ll see what the experience is for the residents of Tanana and if they feel like this is worthwhile, if it is decreasing their costs. These are things we will look at in the future.”
The Tanana City Council, and the tribal councils of Manley, Ruby and Tanana, have all passed resolutions of support for the road in recent years.