Alaska's surest sign of summer is here.
Construction season on the central Kenai Peninsula kicked off with work on Kalifornsky Beach Road earlier this month.
Jonathan Tague, a project engineer for Alaska's Department of Transportation, said the K-Beach improvements include work at the Bridge Access intersection, and an extension of the bike path west of that intersection.
The section K-Beach between Bridge Access and Mallard will be closed overnight this weekend for work at the K-Beach and Bridge Access intersection.
"This is the only planned closure," Tague said.
That section of road will be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Tague said. It will reopen Monday morning at 6 a.m.
"It's a bit disruptive," Tague said. "We're trying to do it quickly."
Drivers will be asked to travel the long way around to access points on K-Beach west of Bridge Access. That means taking the Sterling Highway to its intersection with K-Beach in Kasilof.
The long detour is a big reason why it is only a night-time closure, Tague said.
"There's no other alternative route," he said.
This weekend's task is to upgrade driver recognition technology at the intersection. Before the project finishes, a pole will also get moved and a pedestrian path will be added.
The pole is in the way of the path, and a hindrance for trucks turning right from Bridge Access to K-Beach.
The pedestrian path has been designed to extend as far as Cannery Road, but Tague said that this phase of construction would just install it to Mallard.
Tague said another section could get built this summer, if funding were available, but he didn't know of any funding for it yet.
This phase of the K-Beach project is scheduled to be finished by June 30, he said.
The improvement developed from the K-Beach work done several years ago. At that time, the community weighed in on what more they wanted to see.
"There was a lot of public support for placing a bike path on it," said Tague.
K-Beach isn't the only road in town getting work done this season.
Gary Walklin, another DOT project engineer, said two other projects are in the works.
The Sterling Highway is being upgraded between about milepost 82 and 90, which is the stretch between the weigh station near Sterling and Forest Lane, Walklin said.
"I expect the road paving to start after Memorial Day," Walklin said.
Portions of that stretch of road will close at a time, with a pilot car to lead traffic through the construction zone, he said.
Walklin described the paving as a maintenance project, and said the road was last paved in the 1990s.
Right now, that 8-mile stretch is the only work on the Sterling definitely set for this summer, although flood restoration is scheduled farther south on the road, near Mile 171 and the North Fork Road.
"We have three small sites that will get reforestation and top soil and seeding," said Walklin.
Various Kenai roads will also have work done this summer, but the construction probably won't affect most drivers. That work will build a connector road between the HEA Access Road and Marathon Road, behind Lowe's, and do some paving in that area.
A small improvement project is also scheduled for Coal Creek near K-Beach.
Not all of the summer's work happens outside.
"We have some design plans that are being developed for Holt Lamplight in Nikiski," Walklin said.
Those plans will likely be finished by September, and then DOT will look for a contractor. Some preliminary work might happen this summer, like draingage upgrades, but the bulk of the road improvements will happen next construction season, Walklin said.
Molly Dischner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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