After years of planning and implementation, the city of Soldotna has been praised for its street improvements.
Last Saturday, the Alaska Chapter of the American Public Works Association, presented the city with an award for Outstanding Innovative Design for its Binkley Street improvement project.
A plaque honoring the city was presented to project manager Lee Frey during a ceremony at the Petroleum Club of Anchorage.
“It’s exciting to have the honor,” said Soldotna city engineer Kyle Kornelis.
The improvements to Binkley Street were numerous. The 4,800-foot-long street was completely redone, utilities were updated and the sidewalks were widened, according to an email from Frey.
The project, which was completed last October, cost approximately $3.5 million. It was funded through state legislative grants.
“Some people probably don’t remember how bad a shape Binkley Street was,” Frey said. “The paving on the street was deteriorating quite a bit. We’ve heard people commenting on how they like driving on it now, because it wasn’t in good shape before. It hadn’t been paved in over 20 years.”
Frey said the improvements have also benefitted pedestrians.
“It’s a lot nicer for people pushing strollers or walking a dog,” Frey said, referencing the widened sidewalks.
Another noticeable difference to Binkley Street is the addition of several roundabouts.
“We’ve received quite a lot of positive feedback (about the project),” Kornelis said. “We’ve received some negative feedback about the roundabouts specifically.”
While they have been a source of contention, Kornelis said the roundabouts have advantages over normal four-way stops and cost about the same.
“It’s widely recognized that (the roundabouts) are safer and more efficient in the long run,” Kornelis said. “There are certainly some folks who are not pleased with the roundabouts, but over time, we’re seeing more and more people get accustomed to driving through them.”
Kornelis said that the award wasn’t for just one part of the project.
“It’s not focused on the roundabouts,” Kornelis said. “It’s about the project as a whole and a lot of the improvements to the community.”
Kornelis said that while the city was proud of the award, accolades aren’t a source of motivation.
“We’re not building (these projects) to win an award,” Kornelis said. “We’re building them to better our community and fix deficiencies that need to be taken care of.”
Reach Ian Foley at email@example.com.