Motorists may have to put up with periodic traffic disruptions on parts of East End Road over the next 18 months or so, but the end result will be a rebuilt, wider and more drivable artery leading to and from downtown Homer.
Anchorage-based Quality Asphalt Paving Inc. has been awarded an $11.5 million contract to reconstruct East End from the Lake Street to just beyond the Kachemak Bay Drive intersection to about 3.75 miles east of downtown.
Once completed, the new road will feature an improved two-land surface with "turning pockets" to facilitate left-hand turns, as well as a separated pathway except where a sidewalk already exists near downtown.
The contractor has not yet received a notice to proceed, but that is expected to happen as soon as QAP provides a plan for preventing storm water pollution during construction, a standard procedure, said Murph O'Brien, assistant to the Alaska Depart-ment of Transportation and Public Facilities central region director.
"The contract completion date is June 15, 2005," O'Brien said. "We give our contractors the equivalent of two full seasons."
O'Brien said it is anticipated that utility work will be done this fall and roadway and path work next summer, with perhaps some minor finish work completed in the spring of 2005.
The utility work will include building a structure called a utilidor for housing cable and electrical utility lines along the roadway corridor.
"That way the utility companies can begin moving their lines from the bay side of the road to the uphill side," O'Brien said.
Some work also is expected for water and sewer lines currently under or along side the existing road.
The piece of East End to be rebuilt was resurfaced by QAP in 1998, providing a usable but temporary surface. Residents of the area have been anticipating the reconstruction project ever since.
O'Brien said he knows residents will appreciate the improved artery.
"Our own maintenance people will appreciate it," he added.
Among other things, the wider roadway and upgraded right of way will provide better drainage and have sufficient space for adequate snow removal in the winter.
The design also includes enlarging several culverts that have been prone to blockage during flooding events in the past.
O'Brien said the bigger culverts won't prevent all flood problems, but they will be a decided improvement.
Bob Lundell, DOT project manager, said the utility work itself should have little impact on drivers this fall and winter, but it also would depend on weather.
Once road reconstruction is under way next year, the contract requires QAP to keep traffic flowing with as little disruption as possible. Likely, that will mean working on one lane at a time, while using the other lane for traffic.
"It will be slow going and bumpy, the usual stuff," O'Brien said.
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