Guest post by David Middleton
‘The permafrost is dying’: Bethel sees increased shifting of roads and buildings
Author: Lisa Demer
Updated: 1 day ago calendar Published 2 days ago
Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway, seen on June 28, is the main thoroughfare in Bethel, and one of few paved roads. It has become a roller coaster of a ride over the past couple of years. The state Department of Transportation is studying whether heaving from the thaw-freeze of permafrost is a factor. (Lisa Demer / Alaska Dispatch News)
BETHEL — Along the main thoroughfare here, drivers brake for warped asphalt. Houses sink unevenly into the ground. Walls crack and doors stick. Utility poles tilt, sometimes at alarming angles.
Permafrost in and around Bethel is deteriorating and shrinking, even more quickly than most places in Alaska.
Since the first buildings out here, people have struggled with the freeze and thaw of the soils above the permafrost. Now those challenges are amplified.
“What they are saying is the permafrost is dying,” said Eric Whitney, a home inspector and energy auditor in Bethel who has noticed newly eroding river banks, slanting spruce trees and homes shifting anew just weeks after being…