I attended the Kinross Community Presentation in Delta on Tuesday the 15th regarding the Manh Choh Mine Project in Tetlin Village. I had the opportunity to speak and openly identified myself as a critic of their plan to transport the ore and voiced some of my concerns. Unfortunately, I didn’t mention a critical safety issue that was on everyone’s mind, the dangers of long double trucks on the road when it snows like it did that night.
I would like to share facts that no one can dispute. No trained driver, no safe truck and no safety program can change the fact that overtaking a long truck during a snowstorm or with loose snow on the highway is very dangerous, a common winter event. . During my career I have driven double trailer trucks on these roads and I am well aware of the dangers to other vehicles caused by the swirl of displaced snow following my truck. In many cases I couldn’t see vehicles behind me until they were right on my bumper, I had one that collided with me when I slowed down and it didn’t didn’t. The passenger broke both wrists when he reached the dashboard. In the vehicles that met me, I could see drivers with a white handle on the steering wheel and brake lights as they passed me in the storm, knowing for a few seconds that they could not see anything and were terrified of their site. I constantly worried that they would drift into the ditch or into the other lane and face a possible head-on collision with another vehicle. The risk of these collisions was always a possibility resulting in a serious unfortunate accident. This is something that worried me on every trip.
The Kinross, Ore Transportation Plan, will add 48 long double trucks to the route between here and Fairbanks and each truck will make two round trips per day, or 192 single trips per day. On a snowy road, that’s 192 more chances of an accident. A frustrated and rushed vehicle driver, an error in attention or driving skill, or the wrong stretch of road can lead to a serious accident or even death. Nothing Kinross says or puts into its security plan can change those facts if it begins this ore transportation plan. So my question is, does it allow Kinross unprecedented use of our critical highways as a private ore haul road? take back our public roads as their private ore transport route? The Richardson Freeway from here to Fairbanks is an old, worn, narrow and dangerous two-lane road, already feeling the effects of increased local traffic and additional military traffic. The road cannot sustain 192 additional truck trips every day without serious damage and vehicle safety hazards. Please join Advocates for Safe Alaska Highways at [email protected] in stopping Kinross Ore’s transportation plan. We have facts that cannot be refuted, we have serious concerns expressed by many people, and we have allegations and questions that deserve honest answers from Kinross.
Bill Ward – retired with 50 years of trucking experience