End of trail (work) in sight

Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Alaska Department of Trans-portation and Public Facilities officials hope to complete the Kenai Spur Highway Unity Trail this summer.

"They have until the end of the summer to get everything done," said DOT assistant regional director Murph O'Brien of contractors' deadlines for this summer.

When completed, the 5.3-mile bike path will stretch from Lancashire Drive in Soldotna to Swires Road in Kenai. The DOT contracted the project out to Soldotna-based Alaska Road-builders Inc. Project engineer Ron Davis said the bulk of the work should be completed soon.

"We're going to finish most of the paving this week," he said. "We still have most of the approaches to complete. And we've got some pedestrian handrailing going up."

Davis said subcontractors will take another two to three weeks to install pedestrian handrails on the creek side of the Beaver Creek overpass and the far side of "site 17," near Pickle Hill.

"I'm guessing those guardrails take a lot of work," he said. "But they've got to have them there before we can open the trail. It's about a 40-foot header if you go off the trail (at site 17)."

There is, however, one wrinkle that will extend the project beyond Davis' initial projections.

A quarter-mile segment of the proposed bike path stretching between Strawberry Road and Eagle Rock Drive was skipped last year when construction began because the DOT was unable to reach a right-of-way agreement with one of the owners of the land in the area.

According to Kenai Peninsula Borough records, one of the plots of property is registered to the Bureau of Indian Affairs West Central Alaska Field Office and to Phyllis Bookey as a secondary owner.

DOT's right-of-way office had been in negotiations over the property for more than a year and continued through the off season. O'Brien said bargaining is progressing.

"Offers and counter offers have been made," he said.

O'Brien could not say if a resolution was in sight, but said if work on the unresolved land wasn't finished by summer's end it could extend into next year.

"Everything is keying on the timing of the negotiations," he said. "If it is completed during the time that we have the Roadbuilders, we can amend the existing contract. If they extend, we may have to look at a separate contract."

Construction is taking place between Miles 2.8 and 8.2 on the Kenai Spur Highway, and DOT advises that work will continue at least through June. Traffic delays for grading and paving can be expected.

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