Extreme Project near the Bering Sea
Quality Asphalt Paving, a Colaska subsidiary, recently built an airport for the village of Chefornak, giving a better quality of life for the residents and making their life, in an unforgiving environment, a bit easier.
Chefornak is located in the outer reaches of western Alaska, roughly eight miles east of the Bering Sea. The $17 million, three-year project, funded by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, involved relocating the current airstrip to a location one mile south of the village. Before work could begin, QAP had to overcome the rough tundra conditions by trucking 1.5 million gallons of water to create an ice road 5.5 miles long. The group then had to build a 20 person work camp to house personnel, materials, and equipment throughout the duration of the work and over the long winters. With only oil-burning stoves for warmth, the crew worked diligently, pausing only to dig out the job site when it would become buried in snow and ice.
Despite being forced to battle Mother Nature, the project was a stellar success for QAP. The project was completed three months ahead of schedule and QAP was awarded the AGC Excellence in Construction Award by its peers.
For the 418 residents of Chefornak, the project was an even greater success. They can now utilize a runway surface five times wider and 50 percent longer than the original runway. Updated lighting and support facilities ensure the safe arrival of not only family and friends, but also the food and supplies the community depends on for survival, which only air travel can easily bring in. These access improvements provide a better quality of life for local residents and the smaller surrounding communities.
As an added bonus, many local residents can stand tall knowing that they helped build this success story through their hard work. Throughout the project, QAP continued their ongoing efforts to hire locally, particularly on rural projects, and they were able to bring much needed jobs and income to the community of Chefornak.
This type of project is not a first for Colaska teams. Quite the opposite. They typically manage three to five airport projects in a season, including recent projects at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan and Yakutat airports.