Experimentation of mitigation techniques to reduce the effects of permafrost degradation on transportation infrastructures at Beaver Creek experimental road site, Alaska Highway, Yukon

Authors: Malenfant Lepage, Julie
Advisor: Doré, GuyFortier, Daniel
Abstract: Road design and construction techniques developed in southern Canada definitely need to be adapted to northern environment to prevent dramatic permafrost thawing after new road construction. Furthermore, climate warming causes now important soil stability problems in the Canadian far north. All these factors lead to a loss of the functional and structural capacities of the Alaska Highway over a 200-km section mainly from Destruction Bay to the Alaska border. To find long term and cost-effective solutions, Yukon Highways and Public Works (in collaboration with the Alaska University Transportation Center, Transport Canada, le U.S. Federal Highways Administration, l’Université de Montréal and l’Université Laval) constructed 12 instrumented sections on the Alaska Highway near Beaver Creek (Yukon) in 2008. These sections experiment one or several combined methods of thermal stabilization such as convection air embankment, heat drains, snow/sun shed, grass-covered embankment, longitudinal culverts, reflecting surfaces and snow clearing on embankment slopes. The main objectives of this project are 1) to analyze the ground thermal regime and the heat fluxes for each of the 12 sections during their first three years in service; 2) to document all factors which can facilitate or disrupt the efficiency of the protection systems and; 3) to determine the long term costs / benefits ratio for every technique tested. In order to do this, a new method based on the calculation of heat extraction Hx and heat induction Hi index at the interface between the embankment and the natural ground has been used in this study. The permafrost mitigation techniques that showed good potential for cooling by reducing active layer thicknesses were the ACE uncovered, the longitudinal culverts, the snow/sun shed and the light-coloured aggregate BST (although this was only effective along the central part of the highway). Unfortunately, problems in the installation of the heat drain techniques prevented a full assessment of their effectiveness. The durability of the sections as well as their long-term cooling potential must also be assessed to complete the economic analysis provided in this study.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2016
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/27236
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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