Program Management/Construction Management for Northern Rail Extension Phase 1

Northern Rail Extension Phase 1 | Salcha, AK, US
Tanana River Bridge, Photo by JR Ancheta courtesy of the Alaska Railroad
Northern Rail Extension Phase 1 | Salcha, AK, US
The bridge provides military access to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, a 1.5 million acre training range south of Tanana River. Courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Public Affairs Office
Northern Rail Extension Phase 1 | Salcha, AK, US
Tanana River Bridge, Courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Public Affairs Office
Northern Rail Extension Phase 1 | Salcha, AK, US
Northern Rail Extension Phase 1 - Flood Control Levee
Alaska Railroad Corporation
Salcha, Alaska, USA

With the goal of providing freight and potentially passenger rail services between North Pole and Delta Junction, Alaska, the Alaska Railroad Corporation initiated a four-phase 80-mile Class 1 freight rail extension project. Upon completion of Northern Rail Extension Phase 1 (NRE1), the Tanana River Bridge was constructed. The bridge provides military access to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, a 1.5 million acre training range south of Tanana River.

The official opening of the bridge, Alaska's longest, was celebrated August 5, 2014. At 3,300 feet with 19 piers, construction of the bimodal rail-vehicle bridge involved more than 23 million pounds of steel and 12,000 cubic yards of concrete. The project included a 10,700-foot flood control levee to protect homeowners in Salcha.

Construction of the NRE1 project began in 2010 and was conducted using the Construction Manager/General Contractor delivery method. It was finished on time and $1 million below its $188 million budget. 

As program manager/construction manager for the project, we implemented a cost risk assessment (CRA) process to identify and quantify risks related to both cost and scope. A vital component of the CRA process was a series of risk workshops held at key stages during design. These workshops aided in incorporating refinements to the bridge and levee designs, developing more detail for the construction costs and schedules and obtaining pricing for subcontracting and materials. Through the assessment, we identified risks associated with the challenges of constructing big projects in the middle of Alaska, such as uncertain weather conditions and the cost and availability of materials and fuel.

Our team streamlined delivery and provided a multitude of other project functions, like environmental permitting, levee design services, hydraulic numeric modeling including flood modeling, scour analysis for both bridge and levee, debris loading, as well as ice jam modeling, right-of-way acquisition services, roadway bridge design and construction administration. We also performed analyses of construction phase scenarios and river response to temporary works to support required FEMA CLOMR submittals, constructability analysis and Tanana River Bridge configuration.

Awards

  • 2014 – Colonel Frederick Mears Award of Excellence, Alaska Railroad Corporation
  • 2014 – Top 10 Bridges, No. 2, Roads & Bridges