(TANANA, Alaska) – Two years after the official opening of the Road to Tanana, the road has brought down the cost of travel and freight to the middle Yukon. The 33-mile road, a continuation of Tofty Road, which runs north and west of Manley Hot Springs, was completed in August 2016. In addition to providing increased access to Tanana, the road is also being used to provide more options to transport people and freight farther downriver, reducing costs for other Yukon River communities.
“As we dealt with the fiscal crisis we worked to identify opportunities for collaboration with stakeholders,” said Governor Bill Walker. “The Road to Tanana is a successful example of how the State of Alaska can partner with local governments, tribes, and native corporations to increase access to rural communities.”
“We are excited to see the residents of Tanana enjoy the benefits of cheaper freight and travel,” said Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Commissioner Marc Luiken. “I look forward to continue working with all our partners into the future.”
The reduced cost of travel in particular has been a significant benefit for the community of Tanana. “People are excited to bring in their whole families for native gatherings, potlatches, funerals, festivities. It’s hundreds of dollars for one plane ticket versus just jumping in the truck,” said Cynthia Erickson, owner of Tanana Commercial. “Now you can bring your kids, your whole family.”
Regular maintenance of the Road to Tanana ended on Oct. 1 and will begin again in the spring when DOT&PF operators out of the Manley maintenance station open the road in coordination with the establishment of an ice road that is maintained by the City of Tanana. Winter road maintenance is a collaborative effort between the tribe, the city, and the state.
DOT&PF considers the Road to Tanana a “pioneer road,” meaning drivers can expect rugged conditions. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for winter travel and appropriate safety and survival gear is recommended. The road, which ends on the south banks of the Yukon River, about six miles from the City of Tanana, is one lane with periodic pull-outs and no designated parking areas.
To learn more about the road’s construction and its significance to the community of Tanana, please watch this video recently produced and distributed by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials or visit our website.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 239 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, over 5,600 miles of highway and 731 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”