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Previous speakers have made frequent reference to the "Alaska Highway11
and i t s possible influence on future development of the area i t t r a v e r s e s .
I t has not y e t been c l e a r l y brought out that the Alaska Highway in i t s
present location was conceived and b u i l t as a m i l i t a r y highway to serve
a chain of a i r p o r t s and as an a u x i l i a r y supply route to Alaska.
A j o i n t Canadian and United States Commission, appointed about 1935
for the special purpose* has studied the-question of constructing a highway
to connect the United States with Alaska. The southern portion of the
routes discussed and advocated by t h i s Commission l i e s to the west of the
Itocky Mountains. ' This highway begins a t the railhead a t Dawson Creek and
extends northward through Fort St # John, Fort Nelson and Watson Lake to
Whitehorse from where i t continues in a northwesterly direction to a
junction with the Richardson Highway in Alaska a t Big Delta. Except for
some of the permanent bridges, construction of the highway i s completed
and carrying t r a f f i c throughout i t s length. Transportation d i f f i c u l t i e s ,
which delayed the delivery of s t e e l fabricated in the United S t a t e s ,
prevented completion of some of the permanent bridges t h i s f a l l . Work w i l l
proceed on these bridges throughout the winter however and i t i s anticipated
that they w i l l be completed before the spring thaws'take out any of the
temporary bridges which are now serving the t r a f f i c .
The pioneer road which was b u i l t by the Army Engineers and c i v i l i a n
contractors under the Public Itoads Administration during 1942 has been
brought up to all-weather standard t h i s year with a 26«-foot roadbed and
20 to 22 feet of surfacing with l o c a l gravel or crushed stone. Grades in
general were kept below ten per cent*
Ihe building of the Alaska Highway was undoubtedly the greatest single
highway construction project ever undertaken. The necessity for early
completion gave a l l phases of the work an urgency such as i s seldom
associated with construction p r o j e c t s . Contractors 1 employees a t one time
exceeded 14,000, worked two s h i f t s of 10 or 11 hours a day, 7 days a week>
in a l l kinds of weather including 40 to 50 degrees below zero* to drive
the project through* The hospital service organized t>y the U. S. Public
Health Service which provided prompt and e f f i c i e n t care of the side and
injured workmen and inspection of water supplies and camp sanitation
resulted in above average • health conditions on the job and contributed
materially to the r e s u l t s .
In August, t h i s year, I made a t r i p over the highway, flying from
Ednonton to Fairbanks and then coming down over the highway by automobile.
I covered the f u l l mileage, with the exception of t h a t section between
Northway Airport in Alaska and Slims River Crossing a t Kluane Lake. The
impressions gained on t h i s t r i p may be summed up a s follows:

Gist of remarks of C. D, Curtiss, Deputy Commissioner, United States
Public ftoads Adninistration #

1. I was most impressed by the tremendous magnitude of the job.
Through contact with the project in Washington I was familiar with the
various features of the project that could be measured by figures, such
as the 1500 miles from Dawson Creek to Big Delta, the thousands of trucks,
tractors, shovels and other major items of road building equipment, the 100
odd bridges of sufficient si^Q to constitute structural problems, the
millions of dollars the project was costing, but i t required the combined
trip by a i r and ground over the highway to give these > figures real
meaning as to the unprecedented magnitude of the work. From the a i r I
was impressed-by the wilderness traversed by the highway after leaving
Fort St. Jofon. Outside of timber and gravel "there was no local source
of supplies required for the construction work. Practically everything
from food for woriqnen to spare parts for equipment had to be imported,
much of i t more than 2,000 miles.
2. I was also very much impressed by the large'volume of traffic
using the road while i t was s t i l l under construction This traffic consisted
of heavy loads of bridge material and equipment for the road i t s e l f , materials
and equipment for military projects along the route of the highway > food
and other supplies, and busses carrying soldiers and workmen.. Before
completion the Alaska Highway was already meeting the militaiy needs.
3. 'Another thing which impressed me was the general excellence of the
location. Much of the sharp curvature and excessive grades that were
necessarily a part of the hurried t r a i l construction has been eliminated
through many minor and a few major relocations. Although the high-ray in
general follows the t r a i l road, with the exception of a .very small percentage
of the mileage, i t s location as b u i l t i s quite satisfactory and will be
retained in any future development
4« The surfacing of the highway i s of crushed rock and gravel and
dust i s a real nuisance. One cannot'make a trip over the highway in dry
weather without remonbering the dust.
5. Tb insure uninterrupted service, constant, continuing maintenance
will be necessary. Floods, frost, ice, snow and glides arc same of the major
items that the maintenance crews will have to contend with.
6. A previous speaker has referred to the tourist value of the highway
in the post-ro,r period. I was surprised and much impressed by the scenic
beauty along the route of the highway which far exceeded my expectation*
Throughout the area traversed by the highway there appeared to be excellent
hunting and fishing opportunities. The scenic value alone* however, in my
opinion would draw a great many. Tb be attractive to tourists, however, the
highway would need to be made dustless and a suitable highway corjiection made
with Edmonton*to the east and through Prince George to the West Coast of the
United States. Tourist accommodations and motor vehicle service 7/ould also
have to be available a t intervals along the highway.
7. Many features, some of y/hich have alreac^r been discussed, will
influence post-war development along the highway. To adequately serve
commercial post-war traffic, the highway would neqd as for tourist traffic
suitable highway connections with Ednonton and to the Pacific Coast* Also a
dustless surface would be desirable and some alignment changes to reduce
grades and curvature f