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Trucking in Alaska is “the best” in 25 years despite freight recession

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Industry veterans say that trucking in Alaska is experiencing a boom despite a considerable freight recession affecting drivers in the rest of the United States. 

As mining and oil projects ramp up in the state, trucking companies operating in the area say that it’s a “boom time” for them, citing a strong need for truck drivers and freight hauling for the new industrial projects. 

“It is a boom time for trucking companies here,” said president of the Alaska Trucking Association Joe Michel.

“If you are a qualified driver, someone will pick you up quickly,” Michel said of trucking in Alaska.

Not only can truck drivers get jobs easily, but they are getting paid well too. Annual pay for truckers willing to drive the “ice roads” can be as high as $180,000, and drivers who are looking to stay local in cities like Anchorage are still seeing salaries of up to $75,000, reported NBC Philadelphia.

“This is probably the best trucking has been in Alaska since 2000,” said Jeremy Miller, vice president of operations at Carlile Transportation Systems, who has been with the company since 1998.

“The next five years should see record truckload counts,” said Matt Jolly, president of Alaska West Express. Jolly says that freight volume in 2024 is already approaching that of 2015, which was the most recent peak year for trucking in Alaska.

Alaska West Express sends 15-20 rigs a day up north to Prudhoe Bay along the Dalton Highway, one of the infamous ice roads. 

“It’s a day up and a day back, so with northbound and southbound movement, we have between 30 and 40 trucks on the road at any given time,” Jolly said.

The treacherous road brings Alaskan truckers together, Michel says, describing them as a close community with a “trucker’s code.”

“The truckers know one another,” he says. 

“They take care of their own, the camaraderie is very impressive.” 

Michel says that deadheading back from northern Alaska is almost unavoidable, and southbound drivers give northbound truckers loaded with freight preferential treatment on the treacherous roadways. 

“Empty miles are a very large part of doing business on the slope. There are limited opportunities for backhaul freight,” Jolly said.

This isn’t the first time trucking in Alaska has experienced a freight market opposite that of the lower 48 states, and it probably won’t be the last, according to Miller. 

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