State officials are considering
restricting traffic on the Dalton Highway to protect the trans-Alaska oil
pipeline and North Shore oil facilities from terrorist attacks. The 414-mile
long highway, built in 1974 to serve the North Slope oil industry, has been
used mainly by big rigs carrying supplies to Prudhoe Bay oil fields.
The options for reducing
traffic range from closing the road to the public to putting checkpoints along
the highway, the Anchorage Daily News reported. A group of state officials
evaluating the security of the state's transportation, energy and communications
facilities is scheduled to submit its recommendations later this month.
Though the road is open
to the public, the number of travelers adventurous enough to tackle the rutted,
gravel road has remained relatively small. An average of 246 vehicles per
day used the road last year.
Officials with Alyseka
Pipeline Service Co., which operates the 800-mile pipeline, favor some type
of traffic restriction on the highway, also known as the haul road. "We've
suggested to the state that one way to help secure the pipeline and the North
Slope oil fields would be to provide some degree of control," Bill Howitt,
Alyseka's senior vice president, told the newspaper. "It's up to the
state to determine what that might be."
The need for added protection
for the pipeline was driven home recently when a man fired a .338-caliber
bullet into the line, causing a 285,000-gallon oil spill.