Did you ever have a planning project that never seems to go away?
I just realized that I first started working on planning for the Haul Road Corridor along the Trans Alaska Pipeline almost 30 years ago, and that road and its corridor are still an issue.
It runs some 410 miles from the Yukon River to the Prudhoe Bay oil complex on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and was built in the 1970s to facilitate construction of the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline.
It is now called the Dalton Highway, and is a two-lane road built up on a big bed of gravel which goes over mountains, through wooded wilderness in the south and Arctic foothills and tundra to the north.
It was 1977 when the first North Slope Borough Mayor Eben Hopson asked me to help with local Inupiat and Nunamiut Eskimo concerns over this first road connecting the Arctic with the rest of Alaska and the Lower 48 states.
His vision was that the industrial road would turn into a public road, with minimal State investment in facilities, monitoring and enforcement.
That is what happened overall, although there have been governors and some legislators and State officials who have tried to minimize negative impacts.
Back in the early 1980s, the Legislature opened part of the road to the public, but banned some off-road--vehicle use within five miles of the road. Now this year, the Legislature has a bill to remove that ban, to help give hunters and other residents more and more access to the adjacent area and wildlife habitat. Also historic areas of the Native peoples, who have used the area for centuries.
I've had a variety of jobs since 1977, including several subsequent terms with the Borough Planning Department, but the Haul Road (Dalton Hy) is still a big issue.
Maybe some of you have had experiene with industrial roads that turn into public and recreational roads. It is a complex and difficult topic, but I sincerely hope that people use the road safely and tread lightly on the special lands, traditional use areas and fragile environments along the road.
Sorry to be so wordy, but I wanted to share this with all of you.