Highway repairs may hit roadblocks without money

Sterling-Soldotna stretch, K-Beach slated for work

Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2007

Drivers used to cruising speeds between Sterling and Soldotna are easing off on the gas these days to avoid an increasing number of cracks and frost heaves in the rapidly deteriorating pavement.

Fixing the damaged highway is the top maintenance priority of the Alaska Department of Transportation office in Soldotna, said Carl High, the peninsula district’s superintendent.

“It is my number one request on my hit list of needs,” he said Thursday.

That request has been submitted to the Legislature through the central office in Anchorage.

“We are trying to get special funding to take care of some of the worst areas and get them patched this year,” High said.

The department is seeking $3 million for the repair project. High said Rep. Mike Chenault and Sen. Tom Wagoner are pushing for the funding.

“They are trying to make it happen,” he said.

High said drivers have been complaining, especially those with smaller vehicles that can be bounced about by the unexpectedly uneven road surface. Signs warning of bumps don’t always slow drivers down.

High said the legislative effort has gotten support from the city of Soldotna and from Gary Davis, roads director for the borough. If the money comes through, the repair work would be done by contractors, High said.

“If we had the money, we could get it done this year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kalifornsky Beach Road, another well-used artery in line for some repairs and repaving, won’t see any work until late summer. Bids are not expected to go out until late July or early August, said John Linnell, DOT’s design project manager.

About seven miles in the middle of the stretch between Kasilof and Bridge Access Road got a makeover last year, a project that involved grinding up the old pavement and injecting the mass with asphalt— a process called “foaming” — and using that to reinforce the roadbed. Then a layer of asphalt was paved over that, creating new surface. That is what is planned for the two remaining ends of the stretch, Linnell said.

“We are in the process of getting the permits to do the rest of the two ends,” he said. “What gets done (this year) will depend on the contractor’s schedule.”

Repaving the remaining section won’t require much in the way of utility work, Linnell said.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.

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