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EHEI Award: Education/Training

The "Building Rural Alaska; Partnership for Progress" Video Project

Alaska

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) recently debuted its ?Building Rural Alaska; Partnership for Progress? video. This video is an innovative educational and outreach tool created to address the unique opportunities and difficulties associated with large scale infrastructure construction projects in rural Alaska.

Alaska has over 200 remote villages that are not connected to the state's road system. Primarily, Alaskan Natives, who speak traditional languages and live subsistence lifestyles, populate these villages. Cultural and lingual differences create challenges when locating large scale construction projects in these areas. To address the challenges, the Alaska DOT&PF created a video to educate and encourage DOT&PF staff, contractors, residents, and tribal governments to work closely together to increase the success of large-scale projects. The video addresses four factors that are critical to a project's success: local hire, traffic safety, environmental concerns, and communication with local and tribal governments.

Local hire: Rural transportation projects can provide high paying jobs and a cash infusion into the local economy. The video promotes local hiring by giving information to contractors on the types of talent they can find in rural communities and how to recruit and train a local work force. Additionally, the video provides information to the local government and residents on how to position themselves and their community to secure employment opportunities when a construction project is in the planning and design phase, including where to look for training and how to apply for work.

Traffic safety: Projects in rural Alaska pose unique traffic control and public information challenges. Many projects plan to put the main haul route through a community?s highly pedestrian main street. These projects can create logistical problems and serious safety concerns for the affected villages. The video dramatically demonstrates the effects that a large-scale construction project can have on a community. This gives a community an opportunity to visualize how the construction project may affect pedestrian and light vehicle traffic well in advance of the project.

Environmental concerns: Despite good faith efforts by the community and the DOT&PF, the full environmental impact of a construction project cannot always be fully anticipated during the design process because of the unique circumstances of each village. The department anticipates presenting the video at community meetings during the planning and design phases. The video will be used to facilitate both DOT&PF staff and the local community in thinking about what local resources need additional protection and to identify possible solutions.

Communication with local and tribal governments: The relationship between the DOT&PF and a community's tribal or other local government entity is not always harmonious at the onset of a project; however, DOT&PF continually strives to improve communication. The video reinforces the respect the State of Alaska holds for the tribes and encourages continuous communication between tribal and other local governments, contractors, and DOT&PF staff during all phases of a construction project.

In addition to the full video, the DOT&PF also created 3 separate 30-second public service announcements (PSA) for statewide use on television and radio. Delivery of the PSAs allows the DOT&PF to reach a much broader audience, including those who have not attended project-related community meetings.

For more information on this project, please contact John Ryer, P.E. at john.ryer@alaska.gov.

Updated: 07/11/2012
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