Bridge not driving people too nuts yet

Posted: Monday, June 27, 2005

With motorists now using a temporary bridge to cross the Kenai River in Soldotna — while workers busily tear the old one down — traffic congestion on the south side of town is becoming more of a concern for central Kenai Peninsula drivers. We asked several people who have driven in Soldotna recently how they feel the project is affecting traffic through town.

Betty Good-rich homesteaded in Soldotna 48 years ago. She said she is putting up with the congestion, in hopes that the new, five-lane bridge will be a permanent fix to the bottleneck. As this is the fourth span she's seen go across the river, Goodrich said she hopes the new one is here to stay.

"This is the fourth time. Would it please be the last?" Goodrich said. "Surely they'll get the right size in now."

Joe Rizzo lives in Kenai. While visiting the Soldotna post office, he said his solution to the problem is simple: avoid the area near the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kalifornsky Beach Road entirely.

"I haven't even seen it actually," he said. "I just don't go down there."

Soldotna resident John Howarth Jr. said rush hour traffic is the worst for him.

"On my way home from work, around five or six, it's just rid-iculous," he said.

Howarth said he's especially worried about what will happen when more tourists hit town in July.

"It's going to get way worse once the tourists get here," he said. "... It's gonna be nuts."

Sterling resident Zach Rowell said he, too, is worried that the true test of bridge construction delay will come next month.

"It's crazy, especially now that we're beginning the tourist season," Rowell said.

Despite their grumblings about delays around the bridge, some people did mention that construction crews and traffic signals have at least kept traffic flowing through the intersection.

Steve Bennett and Linda Edwards, visiting from Juneau, said they found the intersection to be slow but tolerable when they had to cross.

"It seemed like it was always moving," Edwards said.

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