Motorists who have endured traffic delays and detours all summer can rejoice, as the light is at the end of the road.
The reconstruction of both the east side of Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Redoubt Avenue-Forest Drive area of Kenai are well under way, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation.
"The contractor is making steady progress," said DOT's Gary Kobayashi. "There have been no problems. As a matter of fact, it's been going real well."
The contractor for both jobs is Foster Construction of Soldotna.
On K-Beach Road, there already is new pavement from the intersection of Bridge Access Road to Poppy Lane.
"If the weather cooperates, we hope to do a mile a week, all lanes," Kobayashi said.
Poppy Lane is about the halfway point of the six-mile project, which runs to the intersection with the Sterling Highway in Soldotna. The worn and patched two lanes of asphalt are being replaced by a three-lane configuration, with a two-way left turn lane in the middle. A walking and bicycling path also is included and should be paved by the time the road is.
"The completion date is Nov. 1, but we should be substantially done by the end of September," Kobayashi said. "The only outstanding things at this point are the electrical (things)."
The electrical work consists of installing new stop lights at the intersection of K-Beach and Poppy. The new system will have a feature that turns all the lights red when emergency vehicles approach.
The pavement that has been put down so far on K-Beach Road is only the first layer, Kobayashi said. A second two-inch layer will be added, creating a four-inch thick road. The abrupt transition between old and new pavement near Bridge Access Road will be eliminated by the second application of asphalt.
The K-Beach project is budgeted at $4.1 million and is expected to come in no more than 10 to 20 percent over that.
"(That) isn't bad in the big picture," Kobayashi said.
Kobayashi also is the project engineer for the reconstruction of Redoubt Avenue and Forest Drive in Kenai.
"It's coming right along. We expect to complete excavation and have storm drain work half done in another week on Redoubt," he said. "Probably in a month or so we will be paving Redoubt and then head up Forest Drive."
The work on Forest will involve removal of the existing asphalt this fall, but Kobayashi said it will not be paved again until next spring.
"Unfortunately, it'll be dirt all winter, as we'll run out of weather for concrete work," he said.
The Redoubt-Forest work is more complicated than K-Beach Road, as cement gutters, curbs and storm drains must be installed. Cement cannot be laid if the temperature is too cold.
Kobayashi said conflicts between where water and sewer lines are believed to be underground and where they really are has slowed work along Redoubt.
"What happens, is when you dig a hole in a subdivision, you always find things not accounted for," he said.
"There are a lot of things not on the plans that conflict with what we're trying to construct."
He said there have been three such encounters with unmapped sewer lines on Redoubt, but they were solved without much problem.
The situation will be different on Forest Drive once excavation begins there, as there are more residences adjacent to the street than there are on Redoubt. That means more connections to water and sewer mains and more possibility for conflict.
Because of all the water and sewer work, the Redoubt-Forest project is more expensive than the K-Beach project and is budgeted at $4.5 million. Kobayashi said he did not have any figures on potential cost overruns at this point.
Road construction will not end with these two projects this season. Kobayashi said the work on the Kenai Spur Highway from Miles 10 to 22 could begin in three weeks, and some work on the Sterling Highway from Fred Meyer to the bridge should begin in September.
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