Construction season approaches

This week’s Skilak Lake Road closure was the first ripple of a wave of road maintenance set to sweep the Peninsula in summer 2015.

The state Department of Transportation, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and the cities of Kenai, Soldotna, and Seward are planning construction projects that will affect travel this summer. Here are some construction sites to be aware of.

The Alaska Department of Transportation will be adding new signals to the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways. On the Kenai Spur, DOT will install flashing yellow arrows at the intersections with Devin Drive in Kenai and Marydale Avenue, in Soldotna.

Another overhead signal will be installed on the Sterling Highway’s Anchor Point intersection with North Fork Road, which leads east to Nikolaevsk, with a flashing yellow on the main line, and flashing red on the side roads.

“It (the flashing arrow signal) is for when intersections become more significant. You know, with more traffic,” said DOT Public Information Officer Shannon McCarthy. “It’s a small improvement, but it’s the kind of thing that has been effective to reduce injury accidents and reduce fatalities.”

In addition to the signal installation, DOT is resurfacing the Sterling Highway from Milepost 135 to Milepost 150 — from approximately Ninilchik River bridge to Ninilchik’s Tall Tree Avenue.

McCarthy said that project would also include the installation of “guard rail end treatments, delineators, which are those reflective things they put on the guard rail itself, and then removing vegetation that’s approaching on the road, then improving the draining and signage and striping.”

Two additional DOT improvement projects will take place on the Seward Highway, between Mileposts 99 and 100, and Mileposts 50 to 75.

This summer Soldotna will be the site of construction by the state DOT, the Soldotna municipal government, and Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Road Service Area.

The city of Soldotna intends to finish the renovation of Binkley street that it began last year and has also put out a bid to repaint street markings, including 50 crosswalks, 120 stop bars, 42 turn-lane markings, and 13 bike-lane symbols. Soldotna received three bids for the repainting in early May, but has yet to award the contract. Once the project has begun, it is scheduled to be completed in 30 days.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will be paving North Kobuk and Spruce Street, two streets that borough engineer Henry Knackstedt called in an email “primary arterial roads that have substantial traffic,” as well as Windridge Avenue and Eagle Ridge Court near Ciechanski State Recreation Area.

In addition to installing a traffic signal at its intersection with the Sterling Highway, DOT will be working on Soldotna’s Birch Street.

“They’re widening Birch Street for turn pockets,” McCarthy said. “And of course they’re relocating utilities and adjusting the drainage and maintaining the existing pathways, and replacing the existing signage and striping as necessary. That particular intersection, there’s actually a park there. And over the years the traffic has just grown. And so now it’s becoming a little more important.”

The Kenai city government will be undertaking two paving and construction projects, and one unpaving project.

VIP Drive, a road on the south bank of the Kenai River that intersects with Kalifornsky Beach Road, will receive pavement from the city this summer. Kenai Capital Projects Director Sean Wedemeyer said that a contract has not yet been awarded for the paving job, but Wedemeyer said the project should be completed in August.

Kenai’s Magic Avenue, which runs in two disconnected segments — one past Walmart and the Kenai city vehicle maintenance building, and the other parallel to the north side of the Kenai Spur Highway — will be paved and extended. Wedemeyer said that a new segment of the road will be built to provide better access to the city shop and nearby Daubenspeck municipal park.

“If you were driving down Marathon Road and you pass Walmart on the left, right before you get to the (Daubenspeck Park) pond, (the road) just kind of dead-ends… So it’s going to extend down there, then make a turn to the left to connect with the existing (area) now plotted as Daubenspeck Circle — that’s the road that’s in front of Beacon and is also serving as the driveway to the new Kenai vehicle maintenance facility. This road will replace that driveway as the main access to those properties.”

A small parking lot at Daubenspeck Park will be paved at the same time. The paving will be finished by August 1, but Wedemeyer said that “more likely, it will be completed in June.”

Wedemeyer said that the currently paved section of Kenai’s Marathon Road will be resurfaced with gravel and pulverized asphalt in order to make it more resistant to ground shifting caused by seasonal temperature change. A contract for the project was given to Alaska Road Builders in the April 1 Kenai city council meeting.

“It tends to move around a lot, resulting in the cracking of the asphalt,” Wedemeyer said of the current Marathon Road surface. “(The asphalt) degrades quickly — water will get into it and expand when it freezes and crack.”

The degraded asphalt will be stripped and pulverized.

“They (Alaska Road Builders) are going to come in with a grinder, they’re going to grind up all the asphalt, replace it with leveling coarse, and grade and compact it… We haven’t used (this type of road construction) a lot around here, but it’s becoming more and more popular.”

Scheduling of the Marathon Road resurfacing has not been determined.

“That might happen next week,” Wedemeyer said. “Or it will happen no later than August 1.”

On Homer’s East End Road, between mileposts 12.5 and 19.6, the DOT will be continuing a resurfacing project begun last year. McCarthy said that the road’s silty bed was excavated last summer and replaced with gravel, and the project will now completed by replacing the surface of the road.

“They did that subsurface work last year, now they’ll be doing the paving,” McCarthy said.

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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