Here is another sign of impending spring: The state is starting its 2000 road construction projects.
Residents can plan ahead for another busy year of intermittent traffic delays around the Kenai Peninsula. Few people complain, however, because the end result is the one thing all Alaskans love almost as much as their permanent fund dividend checks -- new pavement.
Alaska is receiving increased federal funding earmarked for road and trail construction in coming years. The money passes through the Alaska Department of Trans-portation and Public Facilities, but the state cannot use it for routine maintenance or operations.
Two of the biggest construction projects planned for the central peninsula have been revised since last year.
The Soldotna Urban Project, to rebuild the Sterling Highway through town and widen the Kenai River bridge, has been divided into two phases. The bridge work may be postponed.
"That project is running into some problems," said Project Manager Chet Halcomb.
Underground chemical contamination from the River Terrace RV Park has shown up in samples from the highway right of way at the bridge's east end. DOT cannot work on the bridge until the Department of Environmental Conservation declares the contamination cleanup resolved, he said.
Phase one will rebuild and repave the highway from Kobuk to East Redoubt near Fred Meyer. Work may begin late this summer, but is more likely to get under way early in the 2001 construction season, Halcomb said.
The revised plan does not include a traffic signal at the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kobuk. The city of Soldotna had recommended a signal to help motorists trying to turn left onto the highway during summer traffic. DOT officials said they tested the intersection and concluded the side roads did not generate enough traffic to justify installing a stop light at this time.
Phase two will widen the bridge and its approaches to four lanes. It tentatively is scheduled for 2003.
Complications also changed plans to rehabilitate and repave the Kenai Spur Highway between Kenai and Nikiski.
The project originally targeted miles 10.6 to 29. Now the upgrade will end at Mile 22, and it has been moved up to the late summer this year. The other seven miles will become a separate project for a later date. The change is due to difficulties getting rights of way and fill along the northern part of the road, said Rex Young, DOT's Kenai Peninsula area planner. A third revision effects the south peninsula. The upgrade of East End Road in Homer from Mile 0 to 3.75 has been rescheduled to 2002 because of utilities issues, Young said.
Here are the road projects scheduled for the Kenai Peninsula this summer:
n North Kenai Spur Highway -- Mile 10.6 to 22 (described above) will be resurfaced.
n Kalifornsky Beach Road -- The widening begun last year between Soldotna and Bridge Access Road in Kenai will be finished. Work will resume as soon as weather permits, probably late April or early May.
n Sterling Highway -- Widening and reconstruction from the Seward Highway intersection at Mile 37 to Mile 45 near Cooper Landing, begun last year, will be completed.
n Forest Drive and Redoubt Avenue -- Reconstruction of the roads in Kenai is due to begin in May.
n Grouse Creek Canyon near Seward -- Reconstruction of the Seward Highway from Mile 8 to 18 began last year and finishes this season.
n Cooper Landing paving -- Snug Harbor, Quartz Creek and Bean Creek roads are due for paving starting early this summer.
n Exit Glacier Road near Seward -- Paving is due to begin in early summer.
n Homer and Anchor Point area paving -- Kachemak Drive, Ohlson Lane and Bunnell Street in Homer; upper West Hill Road and Skyline Drive from West Hill to East Hill north of Homer; the Old Sterling Highway south of Anchor Point and Milo Fritz Road in Anchor Point are due for paving this summer.
Related construction projects this summer are:
n Kenai Spur Highway Unity Trail -- Trail construction for pedestrians, bicycles and in-line skaters between Kenai and Soldotna is due to begin in late summer.
n Soldotna School Trail -- A pedestrian trail will link Marydale Drive to Redoubt Avenue by Soldotna High School and Redoubt Elementary School.
n Turnagain Pass Rest Area -- The rebuild of the Sterling Highway roadside rest area will be advertised for bids in August.
About six to eight weeks elapse from advertisement to the start of construction.
DOT also is soliciting comments on amendments to the current 1998-2000 Draft Statewide Transporta-tion Improvement Program (STIP).
The amendments affect projects on the north Kenai Spur Highway and East End Road in Homer, as well as the Soldotna Urban Project for the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River bridge.
Copies of the STIP plans are available at public libraries and on the World Wide Web at www.dot.state.ak.us/. People may request printed copies or ask questions by calling (888) 752-6368 (PLAN DOT), or by writing to Jim Scholl or Sean Jordan, 1998-2000 Draft Amended STIP Comments, Alaska DOTPF, 3132 Channel Drive, Room 200, Juneau, AK 99801-7898.
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