The original tunnel was completed in 1943 and used for railroad traffic. In the mid-1960s, the Alaska Railroad began offering a shuttle service for automobiles, similar to Amtrak's Auto Train, which allowed vehicles to drive on to rail cars to be transported between Whittier and the former town of Portage. As traffic to Whittier increased, the shuttle became insufficient, leading in the 1990s to a project to convert the existing railroad tunnel into a one-lane, combination highway and railroad tunnel. Construction on this project began in September 1998, and the combined tunnel was opened to traffic on June 7, 2000.
As eastbound traffic, westbound traffic, and the Alaska Railroad must share the tunnel, there are often waits of 20 minutes or more to enter. As reflected on the Alaska Department of Transportation Tunnel Website, it is now considered "North America's longest railroad-highway tunnel." The tunnel held the title of the longest road tunnel in North America (at nearly 2.5 miles [4 km]) until completion of the 3.5 mile (5.6km) Interstate 93 tunnel as part of the "Big Dig" project in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a 2001 recipient of an Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The tunnel is named after Anton Anderson, an army engineer who in 1941 headed up the construction of the railroad spur from Whittier to Portage.
Gen-Sets Provide Standby Support For Nation's Longest Vehicle Tunnel.(Anton Anderson Memorial tunnel in Alaska)(Brief Article)
Sep 01, 2000; Rain lashed Bear Valley in Alaska and a fiercely cold wind drove a crowd of dignitaries and spectators into the mouth of the...