Karen Grabowski directs traffic around construction equipment on the Kenai Spur Highway at Beaver Creek Wednesday afternoon. During the next few weeks, workers will tear up and replace blacktop on the two-lane portion of the road.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Drivers between Kenai and Soldotna should plan a little extra time into their trips over the next couple weeks while Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities crews work to repave the rough section of highway.
Project manager John Sorenson said he expects work on the $1.7 million project to last through Oct. 15.
Sorenson said the state wanted to wait until after the heavy summer driving season to begin work on the project. But that means crews will now have to deal with unpredictable fall weather, a situation that Sorenson said puts crews in a tricky spot.
"In the summertime there's just way too much traffic, but now you've got the rain," he said. "We're going to give it our best shot."
Sorenson said crews currently with North Star Paving out of Soldotna are working during the day on the project, but he said they also could work nights and weekends.
"We'll just adapt and overcome," he said.
The section of highway being worked on is between Miles 3 and 8 of the highway on a stretch of two-lane blacktop that links four-lane sections outside of Kenai and Soldotna. The road is heavily traveled, and potholes have become a dangerous and widespread problem along the main route linking the two cities.
"Every time it rains we're out there," Sorenson said.
Because the damage to the road is so extensive, crews will have to grind down the existing pavement and repave the road, rather than laying new pavement down.
"Normally, we would overlay it," Sorenson said. "But as bad as it is, the potholes would just come right through."
Motorists driving through the construction area should expect delays of between five and 10 minutes.
Flaggers and pilot cars will be used to guide cars through the construction, which currently is going on at both ends of the project area.
Sorenson said he's hopeful motorists will slow down and give construction crews plenty of room while the work takes place.
"I hope everyone will drive with a little more awareness through there," he said.
As for a long-term fix, Sorenson said funding to widen the section to five lanes is still pending at the legislative level, but he believes it's only a matter of time before the highway will be upgraded.
"This is just to get us through the winter," he said.
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