Annual Dalton Highway truck traffic, up the “haul road”, averages thousands of vehicles per month. It is a main thoroughfare for getting goods up to Prudhoe Bay oil fields. The highway itself provides access from Deadhorse between Kuparuk Base Camp and Endicott oil field. Milne Point and the Oliktok field in the Kuparuk area are also connected. Exploratory drilling has been assisted by ice-without gravel roads in some areas. (Where there are gravel roads- about 200 miles interconnected- they are lifted 5 foot off the ground and about 3 dozen feet wide). There are about 8 miles of gravel roads to get to drilling sites, warehouses and satellite facilities. In winter, roads are covered with ice per transportation. There is regular maintenance yet nothing like this week’s makeover of the haul road.
According to the 4/12 article in Dan Jowling’s Alaska Dispatch News article, “the Dalton Highway reopened Sunday to limited traffic with 30 northbound trucks making the first crossing in a week to resupply Alaska North Slope oil fields.” Then 30 southbound trucks were allowed to make the trip while hundreds more loads were waiting in Fairbanks (almost 500 miles south) to head up to the oil fields with food, fuel and general supplies.
Six miles just below Deadhorse the road had been impassible for a week because of overflow from the Sagavanirktok (Sag) River that never has occurred. The 414 mile haul gravel road runs along the highway and trans-Alaska pipeline. This is one example of why the largest percentage user of energy in Alaska is transportation (then space heat, and finally power production!