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George Cvancara, EIT, Student Project Manager
W. Ray Campbell, Student Project Engineer
Beau Durland, Student Geotechnical Engineer
Duy Lai, Student Design Engineer
Jake Livingston, Student Design Engineer
Wade Kamkoff, EIT, Student Environmental Engineer

Mentor: Rys Miranda, P.E., Department of Natural Resources
Advisor: Dr. Joey Yang, PhD, P.E., UAA

Client: Carl Madson, E.I.T., U.S. Forrest Service


  • Used as a migration route for Alaska Natives
  • The Portage Pass Trail is two mile long hike which provides views of both Portage Glacier and Passage Canal
  • This trail is used mainly during the summer months.


The purpose of this project is to develop the primitive trailhead to an improved Level of Service

Existing Conditions caused by over usage:

  • Road and Parking area in poor condition
  • Insufficient parking capacity
  • Lacks sanitation facilities and amenities
  • Failing double culvert crossing
  • Has an unsafe non-standard railroad crossing

Design Considerations

The final Design shall improve and expand visitor facilities by providing:

  • Safer railroad crossing
  • Parking to accommodate 55 vehicles and 7 oversized
  • Double Vaulted Toilet
  • Picnic Pavilion
  • Trailhead featuring interpretive signs
  • Removal of the existing culvert stream crossing
  • Installation of Pedestrian Bridge

Scope of Work

  1. Trailhead Accommodations
  • Parking Lot
    55 parking spaces
    7 over-sized vehicle spaces
    expansion room
  • Visitor Facilities
    Double Vaulted Toilet
    Pavilion with 2 picnic tables
    interpretive signage

2. O’Neill Crossing (Bridge)

  • removal of double culvert crossing
  • pedestrian/vehicle bridge
    low maintenance
    Cost Effective

3. Railroad Crossing

  • Analyzing existing design and reasons for improvement
  • Limited signage

Design Alternatives

Alternative #1


  • Expandable, low maintenance daily use area
  • User friendly accommodations (restrooms, picnic, oversized vehicle parking)
  • Isolated near existing trailhead to reduce interactions with neighboring property owners


  • Vehicle bridge cost
  • Maintenance of bridge and approach road

Estimated Construction Cost: $2,100,000

Alternative #2


  • Proximity to trailhead
  • Capacity for expansion
  • Pedestrian bridge


  • Potential wetlands
  • Potential floodplain

Estimated Construction Cost: $1,100,000

Alternative #3


  • Pedestrian Bridge
  • Maintenance of bridge and parking lot
  • Room for expansion


  • Lowest elevation, possible flood plain
  • Farther from trailhead
  • Potential vehicle-pedestrian conflict

Estimated Construction Cost: $1,200,000

Lessons Learned

Project Process

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Deadlines
  • Time management


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