(Rel. # 01H16-Grand).EEA# H16
EMBARGO: 12:00AM March 13, 2001
Media: Francis George, 202/347-7474
Contact: Paul Witt, 907/274-2000
HDR Alaska, Inc.
ONE-OF-A-KIND RAIL/ROAD TUNNEL TO PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND WINS
NATIONAL ENGINEERING AWARD
Washington, D.C.—(March 13,
2001)— The new Anton Anderson Memorial
Tunnel, the world’s first public highway/railroad
tunnel, has won a Grand Award in the American
Consulting Engineers Council’s 35th annual
Engineering Excellence Award competition. The
one-of-a-kind tunnel provides safe, easy public
access to the long-isolated Alaskan port city of
Whittier and serves as a gateway to Prince
HDR Alaska, Inc., led the design of the
$80-million project for the Alaska Department of
Transportation and Public Facilities. Opened on
June 7, 2000, the project converted the existing 2.5-mile railroad tunnel into a multi-
modal facility. The reconfigured tunnel has two bridges, a 500-foot-long highway tunnel,
2.6 miles of road, support facilities, and many technological innovations.
Previously, the only way to reach Whittier was by loading vehicles on a railcar for
transport through the World War II-era tunnel. Driven by a growing need for safe and
affordable public access to Whittier, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public
Facilities selected HDR Alaska to study access alternatives.
HDR proposed the combined auto/rail tunnel as the safest, most cost-effective
way to achieve this goal. Adapting the tunnel to combined use would also limit impacts
to Chugach National Forest. The design pioneered the use of a highway Tunnel Control
System and Train Signal System to ensure that cars and trains are never in the tunnel at
the same time. The 2.5-mile-long tunnel floor is the first to use precast concrete panels
with embedded tracks.
Other notable firsts include a combination of six 75-horsepower jet fans and four
300-horsepower portal fans for ventilation, and safehouses located at 1,600-foot intervals
to provide emergency shelter for travelers. Specially designed A-frame portals at both
ends of the tunnel can withstand avalanche loads up to 1,000 pounds per square foot. In
addition, the design had to account for construction challenges, such as replacing railroad
appurtenances with base, conduit, radar detectors, ice control, and concrete panels with
minimal disruption to rail service, and through severe winter conditions.
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is one of 24 winners that will be honored
today at a gala, black-tie banquet and ceremony in Washington, D.C. A panel of judges
with backgrounds in engineering, architecture, government, media, academia, and the
military selected the Engineering Excellence Award winners from a competitive field of
156 finalists. A host of congressional leaders will be on hand for the awards ceremony,
including Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Christopher Bond (R-Mo.). The
ceremony is part of ACEC's annual Consulting Congress Day, during which
representatives of the nation's consulting engineering firms visit with members of
Congress to discuss engineering business-related policy and legislation.
The American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC) is the business association of America's
engineering industry, representing more than 5,000 independent engineering companies
throughout the United States engaged in the development of America's transportation,
environmental, industrial, and other infrastructure. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in
Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 51 state and regional organizations.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Download a printable high-resolution photo of this project from