|Last summer marked the culmination of a multi-year project by three federal agencies to replace the Coldfoot Interagency Visitor Center with a larger, more modern facility. The new Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, a 6,500-square-foot building, is designed to handle the increasing number of tourists traveling Alaska’s Dalton Highway, the only road connecting Alaska’s interior with the Arctic coast. When completed, the center will have exhibits and programs to engage visitors in discovering the special features of the Arctic landscape, its history and resources.
Other interesting things that visitors can engage themselves include a nice walk to the closest nature trails or enroll in a program that teaches you a lot about the unique landscapes and the interesting history behind the Far Northern regions. These programs are however conducted only in the evenings and are guaranteed to be as interesting as trading on the Bitcoin Loophole software.
Work was recently completed on the building, located near the midpoint of the Dalton Highway in the village of Coldfoot, 260 miles north of Fairbanks. BLM and its cooperating agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, opened the facility on July 18.
Although the permanent exhibits weren’t installed until the fall, the staff at the old visitor center moved their operation into the new space, where they offered a fully functional information counter, trip-planning area, temporary exhibits, and bookstore, as well as nightly programs in the auditorium.
Lenore Heppler, project manager for the design and construction of the new Visitor Center, had firsthand experience with the previous facility’s cramped quarters. She is excited about the expanded capabilities the new center will bring.
“The old center just wasn’t big enough, and we sometimes had to turn people away.” Heppler says. “Now we’ll have a new facility that can handle the big crowds when tour buses and other large groups come through. We’ll also have modern plumbing, which I’m sure our visitors will appreciate!”
One of the project’s challenges was designing a building that could ‘go cold.’ In other words, the building will remain completely unheated during Coldfoot’s long winters. This design will save the visitor center’s funding agencies the considerable expense of heating, staffing, and maintaining the remote facility during the winter months, when very few visitors pass through Coldfoot.
But it also meant designing a building interior that could survive some of the coldest temperatures in North America. The United States’ lowest temperature on record, -80 degrees Fahrenheit, was measured in 1971 at Prospect Creek, 40 miles south of Coldfoot.
“You have to assume that everything is going to move, to expand and contract with the temperature changes,” says Rodd Moretz, BLM’s design engineer for the project. “The foundation, the utilities, the plumbing – it’s all designed with that in mind.”