With spring in full effect and summer months right around the corner, construction season has begun for many parts of Alaska, including the Kenai Peninsula. The Alaska Department of Transportation has five major road construction projects on the peninsula slated for this year, with three already underway and two more in the works.
DOT Project Engineer Marcus Forkner said on Monday that the overall goal of these projects is improve safety, visibility and traffic flow along some of the peninsula’s major roadways. Forkner also said that the DOT website AlaskaNavigator.org provides an interactive map with each project’s location, a brief description of the projects and their estimated completion date. This map is updated weekly, but there is also a dedicated hotline for each project that can be called to provide updates on the projects.
The Sterling Highway is currently undergoing shoulder widening and culvert replacement from Mile 97 to Mile 118. The highway was temporarily closed at Mile 106 while the culvert at Coal Creek was replaced with an 18-foot-diameter culvert. Forkner said that the old culvert was perched slightly above the waterline and made it difficult for fish to move upstream. The new larger culvert will allow safer passage for fish and other animals crossing underneath the Sterling highway.
This portion of the Sterling Highway has reopened as of Sunday, and one-lane traffic is being directed by construction crews as maintenance on the Coal Creek Culvert is finished. Crews will also install new culverts at Slikok Tributary, Clam Gulch and Crooked Creek as part of the project. The project has a scheduled completion date of October 2019 and the DOT hotline for this project is 907-262-1042.
Also on the Sterling Highway is a rehabilitation project from Mile 58 to Mile 79. Crews began work between Mile 58 and Mile 60 on Tuesday. In addition to improving general road conditions, the project will include replacing a culvert at the East Fork Moose River as well as upgrading the pedestrian walkway leading to the Skyline trail. Delays are to be expected 24 hours a day, and Forkner said that crews will do most of the heavy work at night to mitigate these delays. There are also speed reduction zones to 45 mph at Miles 59-61, 63-68 and 75-76 and a reduction to 25 mph at Mile 61.5 due to a narrow detour. The DOT hotline for this project is 1-833-206-4717.
On the Kenai Spur Highway, crews are working to expand the highway to five lanes — two in each direction with a center turn lane — from Mile 5 to Mile 8 to match the number of lanes starting at Mile 8. In addition, a culvert will be installed at Mile 7. Drivers should expect detours and flagging operations as crews construct a new pedestrian pathway, improve drainage and install new signage and striping. Forkner said that there will be no delays from July 10 to July 31 to account for dipnetting season. The DOT Hotline for this project is 907-262-0906.
Forkner said that bidding has started for a project along the length of Beaver Loop Road that has been in the works for several years. The project will involve widening the shoulders to 8 feet and installing a separated bike path. Forkner said that construction for this project should begin later this year.
Finally, Forkner said that DOT plans to replace a culvert and repair erosion damage on Mile 9.6 of Kalifornsky Beach Road later this year. No timeline has yet been established for this project, but Forkner said that any potential delays will also take dip netting season into account.