Except for some slightly skimpy store shelves, and a shortage of such things as pizza cheese and burger-joint onion rings, Alaska seems to have weathered the West Coast dockworker lockout well, thanks to a deal brokered by the state’s political leaders and increased truck, barge and air shipments.Nearly every available truck in Alaska and Washington was pushed into service during the weeklong shipping shutdown, which ended Oct. 4 when the Pacific Maritime Association agreed to hire longshoremen to load ships owned by Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc. and CSX Lines LLC. The Alaska-bound ships at the Port of Tacoma were being loaded under an exemption to the lockout for 29 ports along the West Coast.On Oct. 8, a federal judge ordered an end to the lockout for an 80-day "cooling off" period at the request of President Bush.Meantime, convoys of trucks -- as many as 80 at any given time -- were en route to Alaska from Washington state during the weeklong shutdown, trucking companies said.Normally, only a fraction of that amount of cargo comes over-the-road."We have options," said Blaine Ghan, Anchorage terminal manger for Lynden Transport Inc. "No one is going to starve."Two days before the Alaska agreement was reached between shippers and longshoreman, Ghan said the company was "running as many trucks as we possibly can to keep our customers supplied."The 2,400-mile trip from Seattle to Anchorage takes about 55 hours, said Harry McDonald, president of Carlile Transportation Services Inc., one of Alaska’s largest trucking companies. Carlile had as many as 35 trucks on the road "as soon as we saw trouble start," McDonald said.The Anchorage-based company generally has only a handful of trucks coming up from Seattle at any given time, McDonald said.By various estimates, a third or more of produce shipped to Anchorage comes over the Alaska Highway by truck, a mode of transportation that in the last 10 years has taken a big bite out of waterborne produce shipments.Nearly all produce shipments to Fairbanks and to the North Slope come over-the-road directly from the Pacific Northwest, according to produce wholesalers.The Alaska Highway keeps Alaska linked to Outside. Trucking is faster than waterborne shipments, but it comes at a premium."It’s not like Hawaii," McDonald said. "If it’s available in the U.S. or Canada, it can get here, it’s just a matter of cost."Seattle-based Lynden’s subsidiary, Alaska Railbelt Marine, also stepped up shipments during the shutdown, making more room on its barges for groceries and other products, according to Alaska Railroad Corp., a joint-venture partner with the shipping company.Rail cars are loaded onto rail-equipped barges. Goods that come to Alaska by barge and are then transferred to rail usually only include bulky, time-insensitive supplies such as pipes and heavy equipment used in oil field operations and maintenance.Ed Spaunhurst, president of Northland Services Inc., said barge shipments were doubled from Seattle to Anchorage during the shutdown, "mimicking" normal waterborne shipments, albeit slower. Large Alaska-bound cargo ships normally make the journey to Alaska in three days, whereas barges take eight to 10 days, Spaunhurst said.Some 2,500 cargo containers arrive in Anchorage weekly, the majority of which are handled by CSX and TOTE. The Port of Anchorage serves more than 80 percent of the state, according to port officials. A day before longshoreman went back to work, Spaunhurst said the combination of truck, barge and air shipments -- while they didn’t match the large cargo ships’ capacity -- still kept Alaska supplied."The impact hasn’t been too much on the state," Spaunhurst said.Joe Van Treeck, president and chief executive officer of Matanuska Maid Dairy, said things could have been worse had Alaska not been exempted from the shipping shutdown."This actually should refill the pipeline and postpone any future problems by a week or two," Van Treek said.The Alaska-owned dairy uses raw milk from Canada and the United States to supplement its local product. The raw, or bulk milk, normally comes by ship.Van Treek said the dairy producer was able to keep pace with demand during the weeklong lockout, but just barely. The company had to ship some of its raw milk and some packaging materials over-the-road.Van Treek said his company, like most others, will eat the cost of the additional shipping charges. But companies’ bottom lines will be affected."There will be a huge economic upcharge on this," Van Treek said.Larry Baker, president of Restaurants Northwest Inc., agreed. Baker’s company operates 22 Burger King restaurants in Alaska and normally gets its supplies from waterborne shipments.But the dockworker lockout had his company shipping 44,000 pounds of french fries from the Lower 48 by truck, at a cost of $2,500 more than if it came by ship.Burger King restaurants in Alaska did run out of onion rings for a time and got to dangerously low levels of hamburger, Baker said.Some beef and other packaging products were shipped up by airplane at a tremendous cost to the company, Baker said.Burger King’s biggest competitor, McDonald’s, uses trucks to get most of its product to Alaska, said Sherry Nixon, operations manager for McDonald’s corporate-owned restaurants in Alaska.Steve Rice, owner of Round Table Pizza in Anchorage, said he had to ship cheese and dough by truck, which will eat into his profits by 6 percent.Rice said he’ll absorb the additional costs and not pass it on the his customers. But he’s not happy with the dockworker lockout, which has nearly paralyzed parts of the country, at a tremendous cost."They can’t be allowed to embargo their own country," Rice said.While waterborne cargo has been reinstated for Alaska, dockworkers and shipping companies at 29 other West Coast ports continue to fight over pay and job-cutting technologies.