route=Alaska State Route 2
length_ref=cite web | title=FAQ-Alaska Highway Facts publisher=The MILEPOST |url=http://www.milepost.com/faq/hwy_drivingfacts.shtml | accessdate=2007-08-25]
terminus_a=Dawson Creek, BC
terminus_b=Delta Junction, AK
cities=Fort St. John, BC, Fort Nelson, BC, Watson Lake, YT, Whitehorse, YT, Tok
system=Alaska State Routes
Yukon Territorial Highways
British Columbia Provincial Highways
customcommons=The Alaska Highway (also known as the Alaskan Highway, Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN Highway) was constructed during
World War IIand connects the contiguous U.S. to Alaska through Canada. It runs from Dawson Creek, British Columbiato Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon. Completed in 1943, it is 2,237 kilometres or 1,522 miles long. The historic end of the highway is near milepost1422, where it meets the Richardson Highwayin Delta Junction, Alaska, about 160 km (100 mi) southeast of Fairbanks. Mileposts on the Richardson Highway are numbered from Valdez, Alaska. The Alaska Highway is popularly (but unofficially) considered part of the Pan-American Highway, which extends south to Argentina.
Proposals for a highway to Alaska originated in the 1920s. Donald MacDonald dreamed of an international highway spanning the United States, Canada and Russia. In order to promote the highway,
Slim Williamsoriginally traveled the proposed route by dog sled. Since much of the route would pass through Canada, support from the Canadian government was crucial. However, the Canadian government perceived no value in putting up the required funds to build the road, since the only part of Canada that would benefit was not more than a few thousand people in the Yukon.
However, some route consideration was given. The preferred route would pass through the
Rocky Mountain Trenchfrom Prince George, British Columbiato Dawson Citybefore turning west to Fairbanks, Alaska.
attack on Pearl Harborand beginning of the Pacific Theatre in World War II, coupled with Japanese threats to the west coast of North America and the Aleutian Islands, changed the priorities for both nations. On February 6, 1942 the construction of the Alaska Highway was approved by the United States Army and the project received the authorization from the U.S. Congress and President Franklin D. Rooseveltto proceed five days later. Canada agreed to allow construction as long as the United States bore the full cost, and that the road and other facilities in Canada be turned over to Canadian authority after the war ended.
The official start of construction took place on March 8, 1942 after hundreds of pieces of construction equipment were moved on priority trains by the
Northern Alberta Railwaysto the northeastern part of British Columbia near Mile 0 at Dawson Creek. Construction accelerated through the spring as the winter weather faded away and crews were able to work from both the northern and southern ends; they were spurred on after reports of the Japanese invasion of Kiska Islandand Attu Islandin the Aleutians. On September 24, 1942 crews from both directions met at Mile 588 at Contact Creek and the highway was dedicated on November 20, 1942 at Soldiers Summit.
The needs of war dictated the final route, intended to link the airfields of the
Northwest Staging Routethat conveyed lend-lease aircraft from the United States to the Soviet Union. Thus, the rather impractical, long route over extremely difficult terrain was chosen.
The road was originally built mostly by the US Army as a supply route during
World War II. There were four main thrusts in building the route: southeast from Delta Junction, Alaskatoward a linkup at Beaver Creek, Yukon; north then west from Dawson Creek (an advance group started from Fort Nelson, British Columbiaafter traveling on winter roads on frozen marshland from railway stations on the Northern Alberta Railways); both east and west from Whitehorse after being ferried in via the White Pass and Yukon Routerailway. The U.S. Army commandeered equipment of all kinds, including local riverboats, railway locomotives, and housing originally meant for use in southern California.
Although it was completed on
October 28, 1942and its completion was celebrated at Soldier's Summit on November 21(and broadcast by radio, the exact outdoor temperature censored due to wartime concerns), the "highway" was not usable by general vehicles until 1943. Even then, there were many steep grades, a poor surface, switchbacks to gain and descend hills, and few or no guardrails. Bridges, which progressed during 1942 from pontoon bridges to temporary log bridges, were replaced with steel bridges where necessary only. One old log bridge can still be seen at the Aishihik rivercrossing. The easing of the Japanese invasion threat resulted in no more contracts being given to private contractors for upgrading of specific sections.
In particular, some 100 miles of route between Burwash Landing and Koidern, Yukon, became virtually impassable in May and June of 1943, as the
permafrostmelted, no longer protected by a layer of delicate vegetation. A corduroy roadwas built to restore the route, and corduroy still underlays old sections of highway in the area. Modern construction methods do not allow the permafrost to melt, either by building a gravel bermon top or replacing the vegetation and soil immediately with gravel. However, the Burwash-Koidern section is still a problem, as the new highway built there in the late 1990s continues to experience frost heave.
The pioneer road completed in 1942 was approximately 1,680 miles from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction. The army then turned the road over to the
Public Roads Administrationof Washington, which then began putting out section contracts to private road contractors to upgrade selected sections of the road. These sections were upgraded, with removal of excess bends and steep grades; often, a traveler could identify upgraded sections by seeing the telephone line along the PRA-approved route alignment. When the Japanese invasion threat eased, the PRA stopped putting out new contracts. Upon hand-off to Canada in 1946, the route was 1,422 miles from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction.
The route follows a northwest then northward course from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson. On October 16, 1957, a
suspension bridgecrossing the Peace River just south of Fort St. John collapsed. A new bridge was built a few years later. At Fort Nelson, the road turns west and crosses the Rocky Mountains, before resuming a westward course at Coal River. The highway crossed the Yukon-BC border nine times from Mile 590 to Mile 773, six of those crossings were from Mile 590 to Mile 596. After passing the south end of Kluane Lake, the highway follows a north-northwest course to the Alaska border, then northwest to the terminus at Delta Junction.
Postwar rebuilding has not shifted the highway more than ten miles from the original alignment, and in most cases, by less than three miles. It is not clear if it still crosses the Yukon-BC border six times from Mile 590 to Mile 596.
The original agreement between Canada and the United States regarding construction of the highway stipulated that its Canadian portion be turned over to Canada six months after the end of the war; [ [http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Framework/ch15.htm The U.S. Army Center of Military History] Book "UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II - The Western Hemisphere - THE FRAMEWORK OF HEMISPHERE DEFENSE" by Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild - Chapter XIV. THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA: COPARTNERS IN DEFENSE] this took place on April 1, 1946 when the US Army transferred control of the road through the Yukon and British Columbia to the Canadian Army, Northwest Highway System. The Alaskan section was completely paved during the 1960s; largely gravel even in 1981, the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway is now completely paved, mostly with bituminous surface treatment.
The Milepost", an extensive guide bookto the Alaska Highway and other highways in Alaskaand Northwest Canada, was first published in 1949 and continues to be published annually as the foremost guide to travelling the highway.
British Columbiagovernment owns the first 82.6 miles of the highway, the only portion paved during the late 1960s and 1970s. Public Works Canada manages the highway from Mile 82.6 (km 133) to Historic Mile 630. The Yukon government owns the highway from Historic Mile 630 to Historic Mile 1016 (from near Watson Lake to Haines Junction), and manages the remainder to the U.S. border at Historic Mile 1221. The State of Alaska owns the highway within that state (Mile 1221 to Mile 1422).
Extensive rerouting in Canada has shortened the highway by approximately 35 miles (55 km) since 1947, mostly by eliminating winding sections and sometimes by bypassing residential areas. Therefore, the historic milepost markings are no longer accurate but are still important locally as location references. Some old sections of the highway are still in use as local roads, while others are left to deteriorate and still others are ploughed up. Four sections form local residential streets in Whitehorse (3... see map) and Fort Nelson (1), and others form country residential roadways outside of Whitehorse. Although
Champagne, Yukonwas bypassed in 2002, the old highway is still completely in service for that community until a new direct access road is built.
Rerouting continues, expected to continue in the Yukon through 2009, with the Haines Junction-Beaver Creek section covered by the Canada-U.S.
Shakwak Agreement. The new Donjek River bridge was opened 26 September 2007, replacing a 1952 bridge. Under Shakwak, U.S. federal highway money is spent for work done by Canadian contractors who win tenders issued by the Yukon government. The Shakwak Project completed the Haines Highwayupgrades in the 1980s between Haines Junction and the Alaska Panhandle, then funding was stalled by Congress for several years.
The Milepost shows the Canadian section of the highway now to be approximately 1187 miles, but the first milepost inside Alaska is 1222. The actual length of the highway inside Alaska is no longer clear because rerouting, as in Canada, has shortened the route, but unlike Canada, mileposts in Alaska are not recalibrated. The B.C. and Yukon governments and Public Works Canada have recalibrated kilometreposts only as far as a point just at the southeast shore of Kluane Lake, with the latest BC recalibration in 1990 and the only Yukon recalibrations in 2002 and 2005 (based on the distance value where the BC calibration of 1990 left off).
There are historical mileposts along the B.C. and Yukon sections of the highway, installed in 1992, that note 83 specific locations, although the posts no longer represent accurate driving distance.
The portion of the Alaska Highway in Alaska is
Alaska Route 2. In the Yukon, it is Highway 1 and in British Columbia, Highway 97.
For people interested in learning more about the history of the Alaska Highway there are several books on its construction, including "Alcan Trail Blazers: Alaska Highway's Forgotten Heroes."
The Canadian section of the road was delineated with mileposts, based on the road as it was in 1947, until 1978, and over the years, reconstruction steadily shortened the distance between some of those mileposts. That year, metric signs were placed on the highway, and the mileposts were replaced with kilometre posts at the approximate locations of a historic mileage of equal value, e.g. Kmpost 1000 was posted approximately where historical Mile 621 would have been posted.
Reconstruction continues to shorten the highway, but the kilometre posts, at two-km intervals, were recalibrated along the B.C. section of road in 1990 to reflect then-current driving distance. The section of highway covered by the 1990 recalibration has since been rendered shorter by further realignments, such as near Summit Pass and between Muncho Lake and Iron Creek.
Based on where those values left off, new Yukon kilometre posts were erected in fall 2002 between the B.C. border and the west end of the new bypass around
Champagne, Yukon; in 2005, additional recalibrated posts continued from there to the east shore of Kluane Lake near Silver City. Old kilometre posts, based on the historic miles, remain on the highway from that point around Kluane Lake to the Alaska border. The B.C. and Yukon sections also have a small number of historic mileposts, printed on oval-shaped signs, at locations of historic significance; these special signs were erected in 1992 on the occasion of the highway's 50th anniversary.
The Alaska portion of the highway is still marked by mileposts at one-mile intervals, although they no longer represent accurate driving distance, due to reconstruction.
The historic mileposts are still used by residents and businesses along the highway to refer to their location, and in some cases are also used as postal addresses.
Residents and travellers, and the government of the Yukon, do not use "east" and "west" to refer to direction of travel on the Yukon section, even though this is the predominant bearing of the Yukon portion of the highway; "north" and "south" are used, referring to the south (Dawson Creek) and north (Delta Junction) termini of the highway. This is an important consideration for travellers who may otherwise be confused, particularly when a westbound travel routes southwestward or even due south to circumvent a natural obstacle such as Kluane Lake.
Some B.C. sections west of Fort Nelson also route more east-to-west, with southwest bearings in some section; again, "north" is used in preference to "west".
Other roads that join the Alaska Highway include, from South to North:
**Hudson's Hope Highway
**Cassiar Highway(the Cassiar highway is mostly within B.C., joining the Alaska Hwy one mile inside the Yukon)
Glenn Highway( Tok Cut-Off)
Bypassed road segments still in use
Fort Nelson - Mile 301 to 308, now local residential feeder roads Wildflower Drive, Highland Road, Valleyview Drive
* Mile 898, now local residential road just west of Yukon River Bridge
* Mile 920.3 to 922.5, now the southern and northern portions of Centennial Street; middle portion is Birch Street
* Mile 922.5 to 922.7, now a portion of Azure Road
* Mile 924, now a portion of Cousins Airfield Road
* Mile 925.5 to 926.9, now Parent Road (east end overlooks Alaska Highway/Klondike Highway junction)
* Mile 927.2 to 927.7, now Echo Valley Road
* Mile 928 to 928.3, now Jackson Road
* Mile 929 to 934, now Old Alaska Highway
* Mile 968, now entrance road to Mendenhall River Subdivision
Champagne-Aishihik traditional territory
* Mile 969 to 981, Champagne loop (bypassed in fall 2002 by 8.6 mile revision)
* Mile 1016, Hume Street in Haines Junction including access to First Nation subdivision
Other former segments have deteriorated and are no longer usable. More recent construction projects have deliberately ploughed up roadway to close it.
List of Alaska Routes
Numbered highways in Canada
List of Yukon territorial highways
* [http://www.alaskahighwayarchives.ca./en/index.php Alaska Highway — A Yukon perspective] — From the Yukon Archives
* [http://www.milepost.com/faq/hwy_drivingfacts.shtml Alaska Highway Driving Facts] — From the authors of
* [http://www.bellsalaska.com/alaska_highway.html Bell's Alaska] — mile by mile description of the Alaska Highway
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/alaska/ Building the Alaska Highway] — Companion Website for the PBS program.
* [http://www.transglobalhighway.com Trans-Global Highway and the AmerAsian Friendship Tunnel]
* [http://themilepost.com/faq/hwy_history.shtml History of the Alaska Highway] — From the authors of the Milepost
* [http://www.alcan-highway.com/ Alcan-Highway.com] — US Army 95th Engineer Regiment (Colored) building the Alcan Highway
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Alaska Highway — [ə læskə haɪweɪ], Alcan Highway [ ælkæn ], 1942 von der amerikanischen Armee gebaute Autostraße von Dawson Creek (British Columbia) in Nordwestkanada nach Fairbanks in Alaska, USA; 2 450 km lang, davon etwa 1 950 km in Kanada. Der Alaska… … Universal-Lexikon
Alaska Highway — highway between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, & Fairbanks, Alas.: 1,523 mi (2,451 km) … English World dictionary
Alaska Highway — Straßenverlauf Daten Lage: Dawson Creek in der kanadischen Provinz British Columbia bis Delta Junction im US Bundesstaat Alaska … Deutsch Wikipedia
Alaska Highway — Route de l Alaska En rouge, la route de l Alaska. La route de l Alaska (Alaska Highway, communément appelée Al can), est une route stratégique qui relie Dawson Creek, en Colombie Britannique, à Fairbanks, en Alaska, via Whitehorse, au Yukon. Ell … Wikipédia en Français
Alaska Highway — a highway in NW Canada and Alaska, extending from E British Columbia to Fairbanks: built as a U.S. military supply route 1942. 1523 mi. (2452 km) long. Also called Alcan Highway. * * * formerly Alcan Highway Road through the Yukon, connecting… … Universalium
Alaska Highway — a highway in NW Canada and Alaska, extending from E British Columbia to Fairbanks: built as a U.S. military supply route 1942. 1523 mi. (2452 km) long. Also called Alcan Highway … Useful english dictionary
Alaska Highway — /əlæskə ˈhaɪweɪ/ (say uhlaskuh huyway) noun a road extending from eastern British Columbia, Canada, to Fairbanks, Alaska; built in 1942 as a US military supply route. 2452 km. Unofficially, Alcan Highway … Australian English dictionary
Alaska Highway — road joining Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Fairbanks, Alaska; 1,527 mi … Webster's Gazetteer
Toad River/Mile 422 (Alaska Highway) Airport — is located adjacent to Toad River, British Columbia, Canada.ReferencesExternal links* [http://www.copanational.org/PlacesToFly/airport view.php?pr id=3 ap id=1044 Page about this airport] on COPA s Places to Fly airport directory … Wikipedia
Alaska Route 3 — Der George Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3) ist eine Hauptverkehrsstraße im US Bundesstaat Alaska, die auf einer Länge von 520 km den Glenn Highway nördlich von Anchorage mit Fairbanks im Interior verbindet. Der ursprüngliche Name der 1971… … Deutsch Wikipedia