The Alaska Ice Road (commonly called the James Dalton Highway or Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road) is a 414 mile road that goes from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. In the summer, the only way to Tuktoyaktuk is by boat or plane because the Ice road goes over a vast delta of the Yukon river. Even though there is a road, it is a service road for the State of Alaska and the oil companies. This road goes from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. The only way to get to Prudhoe Bay is by something tough like a military vehicle, a Land Rover or Jeep. The road in summertime is made of slippery gravel that apparently kicks up such big clouds of dust that accidents with a big rig are as common as an encounter with a Grizzly bear (actually very common. . .). Up until 1995, permits were required to traverse the James Dalton Highway (the man who was the highway deputy supervisor [just a fancy name for foreman] back in 1943), but now you only need a permit in the winter if your vehicle weighs over 25,000 pounds.
All right, I’ll tell you the history of the Ice Road! Way back in 1943, F.D.R and William Lyon Mackenzie King agreed that if and when there was a German and/or a Japanese invasion of the U.S., the U.S. would be trapped in, unless they could get into Canada or Alaska. So, F.D.R decided to start carving two roads: one to the coast, the other to Canada via Alaska. The one to the coast would soon be cut off from everywhere else because of the Yukon River flooding. The road to Canada would go to the small community of Tuktoyaktuk, where Americans would catch a plane to Canada and Russia. Most of the road would be gravel, but about 35% would have to be on the Yukon River. Since the attacks were expected to be in late winter, people would be able to get all the way to Tuktoyaktuk on gravel and the Yukon River. Once the people were in Tuktoyaktuk, the Army Corps of Engineers would place mines in the ice and head off to Tuktoyaktuk. The road never was used, but every year, the State of Alaska repaves it with gravel.
Since there is a lot to say about the ice road, please tune in again on Tuesday for more on the ice road. . .