A quartet of construction efforts will happen in summer 2016 between miles 8 and 12 of the Kenai Spur Highway, according to Alaska Department of Transportation engineer Morgan Merritt. Sidewalks on that span of road will be reshaped to give better access to wheelchair users, the road will be repaved, an aging culvert near Walmart will be replaced, and a manhole enlarged near Lief Hansen Scout Park.
The culvert running under the Spur Highway near mile 9, east of the Kenai Walmart driveway, is being replaced due to its age. Merritt estimated it to be 30 years old. The culvert provides passage for a creek flowing into the Kenai River, which according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Anadromous Waters catalog is used as rearing habitat for cohoe and sockeye salmon.
Although Merritt said the current culvert meets state salmon passage requirements, the Department of Transportation will make the stream around it more swimmable by leveling a steep section entering the north side of the culvert.
“Fish and Game would like us to improve those slopes so fish can get beyond this area further upstream,” Merritt said during a presentation to the Kenai City Council at their Nov. 4 meeting. The area to be leveled goes beyond the Department of Transportation’s right of way into Kenai city land, which Merritt said will require a temporary construction permit from the city.
Accessibility concerns — for humans, rather than salmon — are also motivating changes to sidewalks running along the Spur Highway, which Merritt said will be brought to the current standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act by altering the slope of the curb ramps.
Ryans Creek flows under the Kenai Spur Highway near mile 11, close to the Lief Hansen Memorial Park. Merritt said the work there will be minimal, requiring only the enlargement of a man-hole to create a better connection between two joining pipes. There will be no excavation under the road, so traffic will not be disrupted.
For the rest of the worksites, Merritt said that although details of traffic control have not been planned, the Spur Highway will not close. Instead, its four-lane section will go down to two lanes during construction. Merritt said there are no plans to create detours, although the construction is likely to increase traffic on Lawton Drive, a road running parallel to the Spur Highway near the construction area.
Merritt said work on the sidewalks, pavement, and culverts will all be done next summer.
“The plan is to do it all in one season,” Merritt said. “Once the money is programmed for a job, (the state) want(s) to expend the money and be done with the obligation. … We want to use it in this fiscal year.”
The contractors for the construction have not been selected. The projects will go to bid in early March or late February. Merritt said he expected the contract to be awarded in April, and work on the sidewalks to begin in May, with the paving and culvert work taking place in late summer or early fall.
“Once they get to it, it will probably only take about 3 weeks,” Merritt said of the paving and culvert alteration.
Reach Ben Boettger at email@example.com.