A truck drives down Funny River Road near the Soldotna Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. Construction crews finished working on preliminary work to widen the shoulders and improve ditching and signage along Funny River Road this week before packing up for the winter, to be continued in summer 2018. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Construction work wrapping up for season

Road construction projects in the central Kenai Peninsula area are finally starting to wind down for the winter.

Since mid-summer, drivers coming west from Cooper Landing toward Soldotna have had to plan extra time for the flaggers and pilot car operations as crews worked on two multi-year projects on the Sterling Highway. Drivers headed out Funny River Road have also had to plan for delays, as crews have been working on a project to widen shoulders, improve drainage and put in new signs and striping.

The Funny River project and one of the Sterling Highway projects near the intersection with Forest Lane are pretty much wrapped up for the season, said Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities public information officer Shannon McCarthy. Both will continue next summer, she said.

“Funny River was able to put down a lot of temporary asphalt,” she said.

The Forest Lane-area project, a regular maintenance project, will install left turn lanes on the highway for drivers turning onto Forest Lane or Jim Dahler Drive. Crews spent this season widening the roadway before paving next year and improving highway lighting.

The other Sterling Highway project, which stretches between mile 58 and mile 79, is a three-year project that will ultimately widen the roadway to include passing lanes, wider shoulders, a new bridge at the East Fork of the Moose River and a pedestrian access for the Skyline Trail. Crews still have a few more weeks working on that project, McCarthy said. The project is planned to end for the season on Nov. 13, according to Alaska Navigator, the DOT’s online public construction project database.

“(Construction crew work is) still ongoing,” McCarthy said. “It really depends on weather for that one.”

The DOT is also working on preparatory work for two other construction projects in the Soldotna area for the 2018 season. One will resurface and add signals to a section of Kalifornsky Beach Road between mile 16 and 22.2, just west of the intersection with the Sterling Highway. DOT project managers are working on the preliminary steps for that project, including ordering parts in advance, McCarthy said.

“The K-Beach project is active, but the public’s not going to see much until next summer,” she said.

The other, a shoulder widening and culvert improvement project on the Sterling Highway south of Soldotna from mile 97 to 118, is in the final design planning phases before planned construction in 2018 and 2019.

Designers and DOT personnel held a public meeting in April to gather public input on the plans and planned to begin construction in 2018, according to an online project description.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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