Mertarvik Barge and Quarry Road

Project Detailsx


Location: Mertarvik, AK

Year Completed:2019


> Site Planning & Design
> Geotechnical Investigation
> Regulatory Plan Preparation
> Permitting


Project Overview x

For decades, the village of Newtok tried to relocate to escape the extreme erosion that has advanced and slowly engulfed community structures. Newtok is located 20 miles from the Bering Sea Coast, along the Ninglick River. However, not long after the establishment of Newtok, the community realized that the distant riverbank was eroding very quickly.

After many years of planning, the village is relocating to Mertarvik, located 9 miles away from Newtok. What does it look like to move an entire village? Nobody has a definitive answer, but engineering certainly plays a role.

Under a term contract with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, HDL helped establish the necessary infrastructure allowing residents to move to Mertarvik. HDL’s past experiences working in rural villages throughout Alaska and a superior understanding of relationship management with village leaders from small communities gave HDL an advantage with the Mertarvik Barge and Quarry Road Project.

An access road from the barge site to the new village of Mertarvik was critical to Newtok’s relocation effort because it allowed for the delivery of equipment and construction materials needed for development. Additionally, improvements to the quarry road were necessary to provide soil materials for constructing roadways, buildings, and staging areas throughout the community.

In 2018, HDL provided design for both potential improvements that would increase the safety, efficiency, and capability of relocating the community of Newtok to Mertarvik.

HDL’s work for the Mertarvik Barge Access Road included:

  • Developing material gradations for the roadway structural section and the armor rock to reduce seasonal impacts to the roadway due to river erosion
  • Designing an appropriate horizontal and vertical alignment to allow large containers and buildings to be moved into the village and not require extreme or unsafe maneuvers by the equipment operators
  • Working with the community to provide the necessary amenities
  • Providing construction administration to maximize production efficiency, minimize costs, and ensure quality