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Newtok Planning Group

Mertarvik Access Road

The Mertarvik Access Road, leading from the barge landing facility to the evacuation shelter, was constructed in 2010-2011 through the collaborative efforts of the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the military Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Program.

The road was built with gravel topped by polyethylene road mats, a technology used by oil companies on Alaska's North Slope for road development on tundra. The 1,000-pound, 8x14-foot polyethylene mats interlock to form a strong, stable and uniform surface over tundra which can support pioneer infrastructure development by trucks, tractors, and loaders. The mats are seen as a promising tool for rural Alaskan roads because they are well suited for use over tundra, and wetland areas, they are easy to install and keep clean, and they cut down on dust that can be generated from gravel-only roads. The mats are ideal for remote locations because they can be loaded on barges, delivered anywhere and assembled easily. The mats can also be used over and over; picked up and placed somewhere else, so they are considered an ideal technology for a newly developing village.

Funding for the Mertarvik Access Road was provided by State of Alaska capital budget funds appropriated to DOT/PF, combined with BIA Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) Program funds. The State DOT/PF funded the USACE to design the road. DOT/PF provided construction management for the road, which was built by IRT Marine Reserve Engineers and Navy Reserve Seabees.

After development of the new village is complete, the polyethylene mat road will support Newtok's desire to retain travel by foot or by all-terrain vehicles in the summer and by snow machine in the winter.

Photo below: polyethylene road mats are offloaded at the Mertarvik barge landing in preparation for construction of the access road. Mertarvik_Access_Rd_BL1
Photo: Bob Lundell, DOT/PF

Photo below: gravel is placed along the alignment of the Mertarvik Access Road in preparation for topping with polyethylene road mats. Mertarvik_Access_Rd_SRC2
Photo: Sally Russell Cox, DCCED/DCRA

Photo below: the IRT and the DOT/PF construction manager top gravel with polyethylene road mats. Mertarvik_Access_Rd_SRC1
Photo: Sally Russell Cox, DCCED/DCRA

Next two photos below: the completed Mertarvik Access Road. Mertarvik_Access_Road_BL2
Photo: Bob Lundell, DOT/PF
Photo: Mike Coffey, DOT/PF

Contact for More Information

Sally Russell Cox
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1650
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588
FAX: (907) 269-4563