Bridge plans back on track

Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2004

After running into a couple snags, the state's Kenai River bridge replacement project in Soldotna appears to be back on track.

According to Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities project engineer Judy Dougherty, the plan is to advertise the project for bidding by the end of the month, with the hope that work could start as soon as October.

"If we can advertise it by the first of July, we may have contracts in place by September," Dougherty said Wednesday from Anchorage.

The bridge project, which DOT had originally hoped to begin this spring, was delayed earlier this year by a legal challenge regarding a platting issue. However, that challenge was cleared up, thanks in part to legislative action spearheaded by Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, that removed the roadblock.

The first thing that needs to be done on the project, Dougherty said, is for crews to get in the water in order to construct a temporary crossing for motorists to use while the new, five-lane crossing is built.

"The first thing we're going to need to do is get the temporary bridge in place," she said.

If all goes according to plan, construction crews could be working on a temporary bridge crossing by October. Crews also will have to construct a "coffer dam" to divert water away from the current bridge's center pier.

Dougherty said that work likely will take place this fall and into the winter. If the construction goes according to the current plan, crews will be working on the new bridge itself next spring.

Despite the delays to the project, Dougherty said they are not unexpected when it comes to dealing with a project the size of the estimated $28 million bridge replacement.

"We've just been working out the nuts and bolts of it," she said.

However, it appears as if all major hurdles have now been cleared, and Dougherty said she's confident the project will move forward with the current timetable.

"We seem to be on schedule for July," she said.

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