Multi-modal transportation refers to the diversity of choices and necessities for linking people and goods. Multi-modal transportation is a particularly important factor for regional accessibility, travel opportunities to and through Alaska’s Federal public lands, and reflecting the state’s economic potential for growth. More than anywhere else in the United States, Alaska depends upon a mix of highway, rail, and most importantly, marine and air connections to meet its transportation needs. This expansive and remote state faces many unique challenges in doing so, including:

 

  • Significant diversity of population density
  • Great distances between remote communities
  • Diversity of cultural and societal norms from subsistence to urban livelihoods
  • Variety of land use interests from resource extraction to wilderness protection
  • Complex geophysical features specific to arctic and subarctic environments
  • Climatic constraints, particularly seasonal temperature fluctuations and accumulation of precipitation in its many forms
  • High transportation infrastructure and maintenance costs

Considerable differences between trip purposes, linkages, and vehicle size can occur among various travel modes, as shown by the following examples related to travel to or within Alaska’s Federal lands:

  • Visiting tourists and residents use a combination of their own or rented vehicles aboard ferries and on roads, or interchangeably transfer from aircraft to rail, water, or bus transit on a single trip
  • Native Alaskans depend upon animal- or gasoline-powered travel modes between villages and hunting grounds for subsistence uses
  • A single seaport can be a common launching point for a tourist exploring nearby coastal shores by sea kayak, a local fishing boat, or a large international cruise ship

With respect to the Federal land management agencies, all of these elements can play a part in determining the role that multi-modal transportation opportunities can provide for visitors, agency staff, and other non-recreational users such as contractors and concessionaires. Establishing priorities for their use and encouragement, along with the costs of doing so from construction to system preservation is one of the many functions of the analyses performed for this LRTP.

Map of Federal Lands

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