Knik Arm bridge planners to meet in Kenai

The Board of Directors for a proposed bridge from Anchorage to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough meets Friday afternoon in Kenai.

 

The bridge would connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie. According to the project’s website, the toll bridge across the Knik Arm will be 2.7 miles long with 19 miles of connecting roads in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Anchorage.

Shannon McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the project, said the project is moving from a conceptual phase to a contract one. The Kenai meeting will be fairly routine, and include an update on the statement of qualifications process currently underway, she said.

That process asks developers, engineers and other interested parties to provide information on their capabilities to conduct the project. Those are due Sept. 22, and then the board will narrow down the field.

The Knik Arm Bridge project is different from other construction endeavors because the authority is looking for someone to design, fund, build and operate the bridge — not just use a pre-existing design to construct it, McCarthy said. It’s likely that a constortium will work together on the final project, she said.

While the bridge wouldn’t change access from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage, it would provide an alternate route from the valley to Anchorage. That means an incident on the Glenn Highway north of Anchorage would have less of an impact on Peninsula-bound travel.

Planning has been underway since 2003, with the project receiving statutory approval from the state of Alaska to finance construction and maintenance of the bridge, and set and collect tolls, in 2006. Much of the permitting and environmental impact work was done earlier in the process, from 2005-2009.

The board meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Kenai Job Center, which is at 11312 Kenai Spur Highway, Suite 2. The meeting is open to the public.

McCarthy said the board meets around the state. Its last Kenai meeting was in July 2010. Other meetings have been held in Fairbanks and Juneau. The board’s next meeting is set for Oct. 20 in Wasilla.

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