State, borough may swap some roads

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and the Kenai Peninsula Borough are talking about swapping a few roads.

The roads on the Kenai Peninsula are a mixture of borough-maintained, city-maintained, state-maintained, federally maintained and unmaintained. For the most part, the borough’s roads are gravel, with only about 5 percent of the 630 miles of road being paved. The state maintains more of the major, paved roads like the Kenai Spur Highway.

Recently, the Department of Transportation approached the borough about exchanging some of the borough’s roads for state roads. One major road on that list is the Escape Route, a back road linking the neighborhoods of Nikiski to Kenai without having to take the Kenai Spur Highway.

The Escape Route is a long gravel road running between Marathon Road, which traverses the marsh lands north of Kenai, to Holt Lamplight Road. It got its name because it was originally built to serve as a backup route in case an explosion at one of the plants in the industrialized zone of Nikiski along the Kenai Spur Highway experience an explosion, making the area dangerous or the highway impassable.

The DOT is interested in taking the Escape Route over from the borough. DOT spokesperson Jill Reese said it’s a matter of equipment.

“It’s a maintenance question,” she said. “We are more geared for high speed plowing.”

She said the DOT is in discussion with the borough but there has not been a formal agreement yet.

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s chief of staff John Quick said the borough is also discussing taking over a number of smaller roads from DOT near areas where the Road Service Area already has contractors in place.

“We’re trying to do something that would increase some efficiencies” he said. “I do know that it’ll be mutually beneficial to the people of the borough.”

If the discussions result in an agreement, it would go to the Road Service Area Board for approval and to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly before being finalized, he said.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

Sockeye salmon. (Photo via Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Fish and Game seeks comment on 2022 sport fish stocking plan

The Sport Fish Division plans to release approximately 7 million fish into the Alaska water systems over the next five years.

A map shows which parts of the Chugach National Forest are open to motorized winter recreation use for the 2021-2022 season. (Map courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)
Parts of Chugach National Forest open to snowmachine use

The 2021-2022 winter motorized season will run through April 30.

Kenai Police Department Chief David Ross explains the purpose of a grant to be used for new radios during a meeting of the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Police to update radios using grant money

The department received almost $260,000 through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Democratic Party candidate for governor Les Gara attends a Zoom meeting with Homer residents on Nov. 18, 2021, from his Anchorage, Alaska, home. (Screen capture)
Gara makes election pitch to Homer

Democratic Party candidate for governor Gara visits virtually.

A man missing for more than 40 years was identified by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation as a Chugiak resident who was last seen in 1979. The man’s body was discovered on an island near Anchorage in 1989. (Courtesy photo/Alaska Department of Public Safety)
Body found in 1980s ID’d through DNA analysis

The body, found in 1989, had been unidentified until now.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID continues decline; 1 new death

The state had an estimated rolling average of 253.3 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham addresses state and Alaska Native leaders Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. Dillingham will travel to Toksook Bay, on an island just off Alaska’s western coast, for the first count on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Census reports minimal state population growth

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s population grew by about 3,400 people between the 2010 and 2020 census.

The old Homer intermediate school building, showing the Homer Boys & Girls Club and gym on the south side of the building at the corner of the Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue.
The old Homer intermediate school building on the corner of the Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue, as seen in October 2010. It’s now known as the Homer Educational and Recreational Complex, or HERC. (Homer News file photo)
Homer awards contract to study use of rec complex site

The goal is to help the city understand the maximum use of that property.

Genna Stormer gives Santa a hug during Christmas Comes to Nikiski at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center on Dec. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
December brings the holiday cheer

Groups across the peninsula get into the spirit of the season with public events.

Most Read