Bridge work on tap: Kasilof project will include lane closure, width restrictions

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2009

The Kasilof River Bridge will soon be undergoing changes as the third part of the Sterling Highway Bridge Rehabilitation project begins next month.

"We want to inform the community that the bridge will be facing lane and width restrictions," said Rick Feller, media liaison with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

An open house meeting was held on Wednesday at the Kasilof Fire Station to inform the public about the project, where it has progressed to date, and what work still needs to be done.

The project -- being done by Washington-based Mowat Construction Company -- is a major restoration of the concrete decks and steel girders of the Deep Creek (Mile 97.4), Ninilchik River (Mile 95.7) and the Kasilof River (Mile 71.1) bridges.

The intent of the project is to reduce maintenance cost and avoid the eventual loss of the structural capability of the bridges, while simultaneously increasing the load capacity of them for an effective 20-year period.

Project work began to the south back in May, starting with repair work on the bridges over Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River, and on these two projects there is now more work behind than ahead.

"For the Kasilof River Bridge we haven't chosen an exact starting date yet, but it will be at the beginning of next month and sometime after the July 4th holiday, since we recognized that as a high traffic period and we didn't want to interfere," Feller said.

When work does begin, it will follow the same pattern as for the two more southern bridges. Traffic will be directed to half the bridge, while construction will take place on the other half in the form of hydro-demolition efforts, followed by concrete paving.

Concrete barriers will be used to guide traffic over the bridge, and plywood will be attached to these barriers to protect passing vehicles from debris resulting from the high-pressure concrete removal process.

"It'll be the same as with the other bridges, when it drops to one lane, there will also be a width restriction of 11 feet," Feller said.

Traffic will be alternating through the single lane, and a temporary signal will be in operation to alert motorists that speed limits will be reduced to 20 miles per hour.

While this may cause some traffic delays during peak periods, such as on weekends or weekdays during hours when people are travelling to and from work, Feller said he expected these delays to be minor.

"The average delay should be about a minute or two, with the exception of heavy traffic weekends when it could be five to 10 minutes, but shouldn't exceed 10 minutes," he said.

DOT also used the Wednesday meeting to inform the public about the upcoming federally funded Sterling Highway Resurfacing project.

"It'll cover 16.7 miles, from the Sterling Highway from the intersection with Kalifornsky Beach Road, south to South Cohoe Loop," said DOT project engineer Gary Walklin.

The project -- which will be done by Alaska Road Builders, Inc. -- will include pre-leveling to take out potholes and dips, paving, new striping, erecting new signs, and putting in a guardrail.

"Work could start by late July or early August," Walklin said.

The resurfacing project is scheduled to be complete by October of 2010.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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