Bridge closure dates change again

Highway paving strands girders in Seward

Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Closure schedule:

The Kenai River bridge in Soldotna will be closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. these days:

Thursday July 27

Sunday July 30

Tuesday Aug. 1

Thursday Aug 3

Sunday Aug. 6

Tuesday Aug. 8

A delay in a paving job near Seward has forced still another revision in the schedule of highway closure dates for the Kenai River bridge project.

Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey said Monday that the Sterling Highway would not be closed overnight on Thursday, July 20, or on Sunday, July 23, or Tuesday, July 25, as earlier reported.

Instead, the highway will be closed on July 27, 30 and on Aug. 1, 3, 6 and 8, all between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. During those periods, north-south highway traffic will have to divert through Kenai.

State Project Manager Matt Coullahan, Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker and Carey met Monday to reset the closure dates when a delay in the road job near Seward tossed another monkey wrench into the timing of the Soldotna bridge project. Girders needed for the Kenai River bridge cannot move out of Seward until the paving job there is completed.

Pushing back the Sterling Highway closure dates until later this month has a silver lining.

“At least they won’t interfere with Progress Days,” Carey said, referring to the annual celebration sponsored by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and the city of Soldotna that is scheduled for this weekend.

The closures are necessary to allow assembly of giant steel span girders, each weighing about 400,000 pounds, that will be trucked from Seward in three sections. A large boom crane moving back and forth along the temporary bridge will set the girders in place, but necessitates halting vehicular traffic.

Last week, it appeared the closures would run from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for nine consecutive nights. That drew a hearty protest from the local business community, which depends on tourist traffic. Business owners flooded Soldotna City Hall with phone calls. The closures were rescheduled for 10 p.m. to 4 p.m. and included staggered dates that were meant to start with closures Monday and Tuesday and then alternating nights beginning Thursday, except not on Fridays or Saturdays.

Monday, however, Coullahan alerted Carey and Boedeker of the paving delay that would keep the girders locked up in Seward for several more days and require still another scheduling revision.

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