Spring is in the air, and, around the Kenai Peninsula, road work signs are starting to sprout like dandelions.
This year will see some major road work in the area, so motorists can look forward to some improvements by year's end and some inconveniences in the interim.
Contractors will begin tearing up pavement and laying down new surfaces as soon as the weather dries out roads enough for the state to lift weight limits. No part of the peninsula will be unaffected, but Soldotna and Nikiski will see major road projects.
"Get ready to rock 'n' roll," said Steve Bonebrake, Soldotna's public works director.
Here's a digest of what to expect on the road ahead:
n Soldotna Urban Phase I: If you live in, work near or drive through Soldotna, expect to modify your driving plans.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will begin a major rehabilitation of the Sterling Highway in downtown Soldotna from East Redoubt Avenue to Kobuk Street. Coalaska, formerly known as Quality Asphalt Paving, won the contract. DOT and the contractor are opening a project office in the Peninsula Center Mall.
"Expect rough roadway surface during the rotomilling and lane reductions," according to the official DOT listing.
Surveyors already are working in the area.
n The North Road from Kenai to Nikiski: The state has a repaving project for Mile 10.6 to 22.0 of the Kenai Spur Highway-North Road ready to roll.
"We are crushing materials in the Ridgeway pit and waiting for weight restrictions to lift," Alaska Road Builders Office Manager Vickie Ramm said Tuesday. "As soon as they go off we can get started."
She anticipated that would be sometime in May. The project is scheduled to be completed in October.
DOT has expanded the original scope of the project to upgrade the quality of the resurfacing and to provide additional interim paving from Mile 22.0 to Mile 29.7 as a second phase, due to begin in July.
One-lane conditions and delays are expected.
n Unity and Soldotna school trails: The Unity Trail will be a pedestrian and bicycle path from Mile 2.8 to 8.2 of the Kenai Spur Highway. The school trail will connect Marydale and Redoubt in Soldotna and also link Soldotna High, Soldotna Middle and Redoubt Elementary schools.
This is a state project funded with federal trails money. It is scheduled to advertise for bids in May with a midsummer startup.
n East Redoubt paving in Soldotna: The city of Soldotna will be completing a rebuild of East Redoubt from the intersection near Fred Meyer to Keystone Drive.
Bonebrake said the city plans to begin work within a week of the lifting of load limits on area roads.
n Binkley and Redoubt intersection: The city of Soldotna's other planned road work for 2001 is drainage and pavement improvements at the busy intersection near the Borough Building. Work is due to be completed by mid-June.
n Forest Drive and Redoubt in Kenai: The state will be finishing the rebuild begun last summer as soon as possible. It should be complete mid to late summer, said Murph O'Brien, staff assistant to the DOT regional director.
n Old Town Kenai: The city of Kenai does not do a lot of road work, public works manager Keith Kornelis explained, but it will be fixing roads in Old Town this summer. Mission, Cook and Upland are on the list. The intersection near Erik Hansen Scout Park will be fixed up with storm drains, curbs, gutters and paving, including the park parking lot.
The city also plans to repave the intersection of Cook and Main in early summer, he said.
n Seward Highway repairs: The state plans to continue its reconstruction of the highway near Seward. This year it will be working on Mile 8 to 18 near Grouse Creek Canyon, including what DOT describes as "two railroad grade-separations." DOT said to expect delays up to one hour. The project is due for completion in August.
In August, the crews will move north to work on repairing frost heaves and ruts between Mileposts 25 and 50, on either side of the Tern Lake junction with the Sterling Highway. Expect pilot cars and delays intermittently until October.
n Exit Glacier Road: Also in the Seward area, the road to the popular glacier is due for rehabilitation and paving. Work will include placing rip rap along the Resurrection River. Expect one-lane roads and some delays from Mile 3.9 to 8.5 on the glacier road.
n Paving in and near Homer: The state will begin several paving projects next month. Affected roads will be Ohlson Lane and Bunnell Street in Homer's old section near Bishop's Beach, Kachemak Drive east of town and Skyline Drive on the bluff overlooking the town. Expect one-lane roadways.
In June, the state plans to advertise for more paving work on the south peninsula. Roadways targeted for reconditioning and repaving include Pioneer Avenue in downtown Homer, East Hill and West Hill roads up the Homer bluff, the North Fork Road near Anchor Point and the Russian Village Road near Nikolaevsk.
n Bird Creek area: The state is planning projects along the Seward Highway in the Bird Creek area of Turnagain Arm. Work will be done on the highway across Bird Flats in the areas of Milepost 97 to 99 and at the Bird Creek Scenic Overlook and Campground at Mile 101.
The state will publish travelers' advisories, its "navigator" series, throughout the construction season to keep the public informed, starting soon if not already, O'Brien said.
The state will publish a brochure, advertisements and post information on its Web site at www.dot.state.ak.us. Follow the links to the "Highway Construction Travelers' Guide."
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