Worried About Massive Canadian Ore Trucks Rolling Through Their Towns, New Group Sues Department Of Transportation

Highway School Bus Stop Along Ore Route. (Alaska Safe Highways)  Big Canadian Trucks On Alaska's Roads & Bridges  The Johnson River ...

Highway School Bus Stop Along Ore Route. (Alaska Safe Highways) 

Big Canadian Trucks On Alaska's Roads & Bridges 

The Johnson River Bridge (Photo, Alaska Safe Highways) 

New "Committee For Safe Communities" Files Lawsuit To Try To Get DOT to "Follow State Law & Regulations"  

A new northern roadside nonprofit has filed an injunction in Fairbanks Superior Court against oversize ore trucks that will run nonstop for 5 years over 250 miles of the Alcan, Richardson and Steese Highways — as well as through the streets of Fairbanks. The trucks are scheduled to soon start hauling round the clock, every 12 minutes or so, all year long.

The nonprofit, Committee For Safe Communities, is made up of local residents who live along the route. The tiny village of Dot Lake on the Alcan is so concerned about the ore trucks collapsing bridges along the route that it has laid in 6 months of emergency food and fuel. Villagers fear being cut off from Fairbanks if a truck destroys one of three metal bridges on the Alcan. 

Photos, Bill Ward 

The trucks will be 95 feet long, haul double trailers, and weigh around 80 tons when loaded. They will pass day and night, 24/7, through the town of Tok and past Dot Lake and then through Delta Junction, Salcha, North Pole, Fairbanks, and on to Fox. The ore route runs over public roads and bridges, back and forth between a new mine at Tetlin and an existing gold mill at Fort Knox in Fairbanks. 

The Committee For Safe Communities wants to halt the ore hauling so DOT can study Alaska's road infrastructure, and ensure safety and compliance with the law before this becomes the new way of life along the highways. 

The nonprofit is concerned about many issues, including school buses, blinding snow blowing up from the trucks, truck passing, damaged asphalt, aging bridges that will be crossed -- and the possibility for deaths due to the trucks intermingling with local people, military convoys, RVers and inbound tourists, and school children. The trucks will not have pilot cars. 

The group's lawsuit says that vehicle lengths in Alaska regulations are limited to 75 feet. They also question using Fairbanks roads to haul ore through town, including Peger Road, which runs straight through the city on its north-south axis. 

The formal nonprofit is made up of a number of earlier groups that have expressed concern about the trucks, most notably a group of northern citizens called Advocates for Safe Alaska Highways. The Village of Dot Lake, out on the highway, is another member of the new Alaska Committee for Safe Communities, as well as Citizens for Clean Air. 

Kinross Ore Truck (Alaska Safe Highways) 

Many people in the northern part of roadside Alaska have written the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for several years, presenting their multiple concerns. Defenders of the ore haul, claiming that critics' worries are overblown and exaggerated, have also written the Daily News-Miner. 

In Alaska, which is a physically large but sparsely populated state, there is little concern about the trucks and the highways outside the immediate area impacted by the ore hauling. The topic of the trucks on the highways is barely noticed south of the Denali Highway and has almost no presence as a topic of interest in Anchorage-based media. 

Bridges On The Alcan Ore Route Span Long Distances. (Photo, Alaska Safe Highways)

The Department of Transportation has consistently supported use of the three highways and Fairbanks roads as legal, and apparently safe. 

Governor Mike Dunleavy gives the ore hauling his full-throated support. Former Governor Frank Murkowski does not, and has criticized it publicly as a danger to life and infrastructure in open letters to the Anchorage Daily News and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. 



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