Granite sets up camp for $100M Denali bridge contract

Talk about going to summer camp.

A Granite Construction project in Denali National Park in Alaska required just that: A base camp for workers located near the jobsite, which is 45 miles from the park’s entrance and at the unpaved halfway point of the park’s only road.

In February, Watsonville, California-based Granite won the $100 million bridge project to fix the severed highway in the Pretty Rocks Landslide area of the park. 

Now, the contractor has made progress, according to a news release, with the implementation of the second, earthwork phase of the job, known as “Option X.” That includes the setup of the remote workers camp, a necessity in the rugged location about five hours north of Anchorage.

Option X also tasks Granite with the construction of contractor facilities and initial staging areas along Denali Park Road, mobilizing equipment, pioneering access to the site and across the landslide, performing earthwork, blasting adjacent rock slopes and rock bolting for slope stabilization.

While the landside has been active since at least the 1960s, in recent years its movement has accelerated. Beginning in 2014, National Park Service road crews started bringing in hundreds of truckloads of gravel to maintain the slump, according to NPS. But by 2021, that approach was no longer tenable, and for the past two tourist seasons the remaining 47 miles of roadway through the park have remained impassable, necessitating the bridge over the area.  

The overall contract was broken into three major options: procurement for long-lead items; the current Option X earthworks package; and the final option for bridge construction. The earthworks package price is $51.5 million, bringing the total value of awarded options on the job so far to $67 million, Granite said. Funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration.

The contract adheres to the construction manager/general contractor delivery method, which involves the contractor during the design and planning phases. According to Granite’s release, it offers a lower risk profile for both the contractor and the owner while increasing the overall value to taxpayers. 

“Every aspect of this challenging project required robust participation by every team member in a highly collaborative CM/GC process,” said Derek Betts, Granite’s vice president of regional operations, in the release.

Granite started construction on the Option X earthworks package in July. The Polychrome Area Improvements project is scheduled to be completed by July of 2026.


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