9/1/1955

Army Racing Winter in North

       
by E.B. FUSSELL

It's still summer in Seattle but in Alaska the Army Corps of Engineers intently watches the calendar and the weather reports.

An early Arctic freeze-up may be just around the corner. Meanwhile millions of dollars' worth of equipment, which until a few weeks ago rested on Seattle wharves, is being moved by van caravans, barges and rail, and in some cases by plane, to contractor's camps at ten isolated Alaskan sites.

Each of these sites will be a key point in the Air Force's D. E. W. (distant early warning) radar system, guarding the polar-route approach to the United States.

Records Set

Progress reports show records are being set in building the defense network, said Col. Carl Y. Farrell, Alaska-district engineer.

The Corps of Engineers is using chartered planes to get its engineers to construction sites. Contractors, Farrel said, are working the clock-around to get a "toe-hold" on most of the jobs before winter's onset.

An installation on Middleton Island will be completed by December at a cost of about $2,878,000. Middleton was a barren, uninhabited island off Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska, when the Morrison-Knudsen Co. began in the spring of 1954.

The site already boasts an airstrip, completed ahead of time. Towers, warehouses, fuel and water storage and various technical buildings will be ready for Air Force occupancy by November.

At seven other sites, construction crews are building access roads, receiving materials and equipment and in some cases erecting buildings so that interior work can be carried on during the winter.

 
OUTPOST DUTY: This map shows where new Air Force installations are being established in Alaska. Work is proceeding around the clock at the sites.

Contracts Awarded

At two interior sites, Indian Mountain and Sparrevohn, contracts were awarded only last week to the Gaasland Co. of Bellingham. Only preliminary work will be possible at the sites this year. But the projects, and the seven on which construction is farther advanced, are scheduled for completion by late fall or early winter of next year.

The construction and installation contracts total about $26,000,000. Most of the contracting firms have home addresses in Seattle.

Inside the Arctic Circle, the Manson-Osberg Co. of Seattle has a $3,693,390 contract on Kotzebue Island and a $3,061,018 contract for Fort Yukon. The first barges with equipment arrived at Kotzebue in mid-July. At Fort Yukon an earlier beginning was made by overland trucking.

  Kotzebue and Bethel, where the Morrison-Knudsen Co. has a $4,053,457 contract, will see construction crews using artificial freezing to avoid thawing ground where tundra has been removed.

Using artificial refrigeration is something like selling ice boxes to Eskimos, the engineers concede, but necessary under the circumstances.

For other installations on which work is under way, the constructors and the contract amounts are:

Homer (Kenai Peninsula), Chris Berg, Inc., Seattle, $1,897,184.

Chiniak (Kodiak Island), S. S. Mullen, Inc., Seattle, $2,117,347.

Sitkinak (one of the Trinity Islands near Kodiak), J. A. Jones Construction Co., Seattle, $3,972,930.

Unalakleet (on Bering Sea), Sam Bergerson, Tacoma, $3,087,046.


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