The community of Delta Junction is stranded. First, we lost our grocery store forcing us to travel to Fairbanks for most of our food. Now we have lost the Richardson Highway to the military who has taken it over for convoy transports.

For the next two weeks or more the military has announced that there will be military convoys and/or supply vehicles traveling between Fairbanks and Delta, apparently with absolutely no consideration for civilian traffic. The convoys: could travel at any time; will be comprised of just a few vehicles or long columns. These convoys travel bunched up with no ability to pass; travel at speeds 20-25 mph; refuse to pull over to allow vehicles to pass, except maybe once at Midway; and they stop periodically due to breakdowns and accidents.

It's possible that if you're unlucky enough to get caught behind these convoys it could take five hours to travel between Delta and Fairbanks. Can your trip afford that delay? Should the military be allowed to ignore traffic laws? Should the military have the right to take over public highways? Furthermore, the increase in accidents along the Richardson Highway this winter is evidence enough that this increased use will lead to more accidents and fatalities.

There is a possible solution to this mess. A proposal has been submitted to the Alaska Railroad Corporation Board to build a gravel pioneer access road along the existing railroad right-of-way on the west side of the Tanana River.

This gravel road will be phase one of the planned railroad extension to Delta Junction. and used later in the construction of the railroad. Once the road is completed, the military traffic could then cross the bridge at Salcha and move along this private access gravel road avoiding the Richardson Highway altogether ending up at Fort Greely. The route is already permitted and could be completed with adequate funding in a year or two.

The other potential benefit of this Pioneer Access Road could be to divert the planned Kinross Ore Haul with their long double trucks onto this road and keep their 96 round trips off the dangerous and narrow Richardson Highway.

If you'd like to read this complete proposal send a request to the e-mail: and I'll forward you a copy.

Bill Ward