The Barrow Utilidor System (BUS) is a unique 3.2 mile wood tunnel, which runs below Barrow like an underground road system and allows the Coop to transport running water through the permafrost to homes, schools and businesses. The Utilidor went into operation in 1984.
The Utilidor is constructed of a trapezoidal wood structure, that is 6 feet high, 6 feet wide at the base and tapers to 5 feet wide at the top. The individual sections are spliced together to form the straight portions of the Utilidor. At each intersection or angle a metal frame with a wooden skin is installed. The wood sections and metal frame boxes are bolted together to form one continuous system. Power, Lighting, Ventilation and Instrumentation (Telemetry) are provided throughout the system for safety, operation and maintenance. Air temperatures are monitored as well. The cold arctic air must be heated to roughly 48 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be pumped into the Utilidor and replaced six (6) times per hour.
The following services are provided or networked within the Utilidor system:
Telephone service lines
TV Cable service lines
Fiber optic service (NSB communication network)
Electric service lines
The Utilidor supplies water to fire hydrants throughout the town. Hydrants are “dry barrel”, meaning, no water is actually in them until an internal stem is driven down to open them up. The water in this system is constantly circulating.
On weekdays, it is possible for small groups to tour this unique facility, including the underground tunnel. Call 907-852-6166 to make an appointment.
Pump Station #2
Above ground water & sewer lines connecting the Barrow and Browerville utilidors