On November 30, 2018, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake jolted the city of Anchorage, triggering rockslides and thousands of aftershocks that devastated roads and facilities around the city, reducing a main thoroughfare – the northbound off-ramp of Minnesota Boulevard near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport – to rubble. The Federal Highway Administration approved a “quick release” of $5 million in emergency relief funds to get this $7 million project into place to restore essential travel throughout the city.
Given Alaska’s construction schedule and limited roads, obtaining the amount of asphalt needed to fix earthquake-damaged roads proved the biggest challenge for Alaska DOT&PF. To expedite this process, agency staff called the owners of asphalt plants the day after the earthquake to alert them. It’s not an easy task to keep an asphalt plant up and running when it’s cold, as oil must be hot and the aggregate needs to be dry. But with those asphalt-making facilities were up and running right away, a crew of 14 people worked around the clock to haul out the rubble, bring in asphalt, then repave and paint the roads. The roads were repaired before sunrise on December 4, 2018 – less than five days after the earthquake hit. Alaska DOT&PF credited planning and training protocols for its highway crews for that rapid response and repair time – allowing them to re-open the roads in record time. The quick response and smooth operations involved in this project not only restore access to the roads, but ensured the safety of all travelers.