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Residents see drawings of new Soldotna bridge

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2003

KENAI (AP) Soldotna residents and government officials last week got their first look at a proposed new Kenai River bridge, expected to be completed by late 2005.

The bridge will replace the existing David Douthit Veterans Memorial Bridge on the Sterling Highway.

Drawings presented by the state Department of Transportation showed a curved support structure rising above a single deck. Steel supports will be attached to the deck by steel cables, which will allow the bridge to cross the without pilings.

Bridge designer Elmer Marx said the 400-foot long, 75-foot high tied arch'' suspension bridge was the most logical choice because it enables the state to build a cost effective bridge structure without permanent structures in the river.

For this span length it satisfies all the design criteria and is the most economically viable,'' Marx said.

The bridge will hold five lanes of traffic and 12-foot wide pedestrian pathways on both sides. The five-lane configuration will allow the state to extend the existing five-lane Sterling Highway south to Kalifornsky Beach Road.

I like it. I think it's just great,'' Soldotna City Councilwoman Jane Stein said of the bridge. It has beautiful, clean lines, and I can drive across it and still see what's going on down in the river.''

Project manager Judy Dougherty said the state has secured funding for the bridge, which will cost around $28 million. Landscaping and other work will push the price to roughly $34 million. She said she anticipates the project taking between 18 and 24 months to complete, with bids going out next February and construction likely to begin in spring 2004.

The department held an open house to answer questions about the project's impact. Many said construction of a new bridge would add to congestion in a busy part of Soldotna.

Dougherty said drivers should not be overly inconvenienced by delays. DOT plans call for construction of a two-lane, temporary crossing below the existing bridge.

We're anticipating that for the bulk of the construction, two-way traffic will be able to pass,'' she said.

Dougherty said larger trucks may not be able to use the bridge and delays could be expected during peak construction.

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