Road project has long-term benefits for peninsula

  • By Peninsula Clarion Editorial
  • Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:34pm
  • Opinion

It’s a good thing when a project can kill two birds with one stone — or as is the case with planned improvements to the Sterling Highway between Soldotna and Clam Gulch, make the road safer for motorists while enhancing fish passage on the streams it crosses.

The plan from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is to widen the existing shoulders from 4 to 8 feet, add rumble strips and reflective striping, and install a safety edge, among other improvements.

Where the highway crosses salmon streams, including a tributary of Slikok Creek, Coal Creek, Crooked Creek, and an unmanned creek near Clam Gulch, existing culverts will be replaced with larger structures that will better allow juvenile salmon access to areas upstream of the road crossing.

In fact, fish passage had been identified as a significant issue on the Kenai Peninsula years ago — in a 2001 survey of culverts at road-stream, researchers found that 78 percent of the culverts on the peninsula were not adequate for fish passage.

Since then, an effort, spearheaded by the Kenai Watershed Forum, has been under way to upgrade inadequate culverts. Many have been replaced; others have been altered to slow the current passing through.

Planning road crossings that account for fish passage is now as much a part of road design as planning safe intersections.

Improvements to the Sterling Highway also are long overdue; if you’ve had the opportunity to drive on highways in other parts of the state that have undergone similar improvements, you know how much of a difference they make. Between 2006 and 2010, that stretch of road saw 266 traffic accidents; 93 of them, or 35 percent, could have been less severe or avoided altogether had the proposed improvements been in place.

Construction is planned for the summer of 2018, and we know to expect a long, slow drive for anyone who will be headed that direction, with likely detours around Kalifornsky Beach Road (which, by the way, will be seeing some improvements this summer, including traffic lights to be installed at the Gas Well and Ciechanski intersections; find details here:

While there will be some short-term inconvenience, we look forward to the long-term benefits, including a safer road and better salmon habitat, both of which are a boon for the Kenai Peninsula.

More in Opinion

Shana Loshbaugh (Courtesy photo)
History conference seeking input from peninsula people

The Alaska Historical Society will hold its annual conference on the central peninsula this fall

Coach Dan Gensel (left) prepares to get his ear pierced to celebrate Soldotna High School’s first team-sport state championship on Friday, Febr. 12, 1993 in Soldotna, Alaska. Gensel, who led the Soldotna High School girls basketball team to victory, had promised his team earlier in the season that he would get his ear pierced if they won the state title. (Rusty Swan/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering my friend, Dan Gensel

It’s a friendship that’s both fixed in time and eternal

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The false gods in America’s gun culture

HB 61 is a solution in search of a problem.

KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland
Reflecting on a year of growth and resilience

A message from the superintendent

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. (Courtesy photo/Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)
Honoring the 69 peace officers who have died serving Alaskans

Alaska Peace Officer Memorial Day honors the brave men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty

Rep. Maxine Dibert (Image via Alaska State Legislature)
Opinion: The economic case for a significant investment in education

As our oil production and related revenue have declined, our investments in education have remained flat

Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion
Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019.
Don’t let the abundance of snow fool you; Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Last summer’s 590 wildfires burned more than 3.1 million acres in Alaska, about 41% of the total acreage burned in the U.S.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
Former Gov. Frank Murkowski in May 2019.
Opinion: Statewide sales tax just doesn’t make ‘horse sense’

Money for the dividend was meant to be sized after State government services obligations had been met

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Point of View: Big steps to strengthen child care system

Funding in the budget, statutory reforms and support from the administration are all necessary to strengthen the child care system in Alaska

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a news conference in which options for a long-range fiscal plan were discussed. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tax talk should be paired with PFD pragmatism

Alaska is 30 years into state budget deficits, borrowing billions from savings to pay the bills.

Opinion: Seafood Producers Cooperative responds to WFC ruling

“I want to convey our great disappointment…”

Lawmakers, staff and other workers inside the The Alaska State Capitol are preparing this week for the upcoming session of the Alaska State Legislature that starts Jan. 17, including the release of the first round of prefile bills published Monday by the Legislative Affairs Agency. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Alaska Voices: Senate tax bills threaten critically needed community investment

Hilcorp Alaska’s role as a major sponsor of our race is a source of great pride