5 Mar 2010, 10:41pm
Too Ludicrous For Words
by admin

Trail of Blue Ice a pricey gem in Alaska’s trail system

The 4.7 mile trail in Portage Valley cost nearly $1 million a mile to build

By Jim Magowan, Turnagain Times, March 4, 2010 [here]

Alaskans love trails, but that love can carry a hefty price tag, like the $4.4 million it cost to build the 4.7 mile Trail of Blue Ice in Portage Valley.

This modern pathway to adventure, though pricey as it was, has been lauded by the multitude of people hiking and biking this one-of-a-kind trail in Alaska that was completed last fall.

In less than five miles, from its start at the Portage Lake parking lot to its finish at Moose Flats, the trail winds by three glaciers, Byron, Middle and Explorer, while passing through wilderness, within yards of Portage Highway, that is habitat for a wildlife population that includes moose, black bears snowshoe hares and coyotes.

“The Trail of Blue Ice is a great bike ride. It’s so beautiful and peaceful; there is nothing like it,” said, Anchorage attorney Paul Kelly, who was enjoying a late February hike on the trail. …

Not a simple footpath through the woods, the Trail of Blue Ice is what the U.S. Forest Service classifies as a Class V trail. …

Gravel, paved and even some metal boardwalk sections over wetlands plus seven bridges, including two tied-arch bridges, makes up the Trail of Blue Ice. Even in the gravel areas, the surface is both wide and deep. The paved section, from near the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center to the Williwaw area is handicapped accessible and able to accommodate wheelchairs. …

The trail construction involved three contractors and had taken seven years to finish when contractor Oregon Woods completed Phase III last fall. …

“91 percent of the funds ($4,125,705) was from grants to the state from the federal highway trust fund, which has a fund for trails,” said Pomeroy. “The remaining 9 percent ($275,047) were state matching funds.” …

“Alaska Yellow Cedar was used for some of the bridges,” Rein said. “Yellow Cedar resists decay, and we wanted to help stimulate the Alaska timber industry. As it turned out, a lot of the wood came from Canada. We can’t control where the contractors buy the materials and apparently the wood from Canada cost less than wood from Southeast Alaska. Some of the material did come from Alaska, though, and there was a ‘Buy Alaska’ provision so, overall, the Alaska economy did benefit.” … [more]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson of Property Rights Research [here, here]

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