Thanks in part to a $250,000 special appropriation pushed through the Legislature by Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, nearly three-fourths of Echo Lake Road was repaved this summer by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
Pitch black asphalt and freshly painted yellow and white stripes greet motorists traveling along 2.8 miles of the road as it winds its way from the Sterling Highway past rolling hills and country homes toward its intersection with Gaswell Road near Kalifornsky Beach Road.
"The road was repaved because of the really poor condition it was in," said Carl High, Kenai Peninsula district superintendent for the state road department.
"We had $50,000 from the general deferred maintenance budget and were able to pave the road because of the special appropriation Sen. Wagoner pushed through," he said.
Other Kenai Peninsula road improvements made this year include repairs to Johnson Lake Loop in Kasilof, Skilak Lake Loop repairs between Sterling and Cooper Landing and reworking and resurfacing of a section of Gaswell Road near the Jones Stub curve, said High.
He said the Gaswell Road curve was reworked to improve motor-ists' visibility as they round the corner near Jones Road. The 3 1/2 tenths of a mile of road also was repaved there.
DOT put down 1 1/2 feet of road bed dirt and gravel on the entire length of Johnson Lake Loop, which was nearly impassable due to deep mud and large potholes last winter.
A decision has not been made yet as to what to do at the south end of Johnson Lake Loop where it once crossed Crooked Creek, High said.
"We still don't know if we'll put in culverts or a new bridge there," he said.
Part of the improvements in the Kasilof community also include a new approach to Tustumena Ele-mentary School to improve safety, High said.
Peninsula district workers also rebuilt eight miles of Skilak Lake Loop, lifting the road surface 1 1/2 feet with added road-bed material. That project was completed in a little more than two weeks in the spring.
The Echo Lake Road project took 2 1/2 weeks to complete and the Johnson Lake Loop project took about a month, according to High.
Another Kenai Peninsula state road project in the works involves a possible reconfiguration of the Kenai Spur Highway in North Kenai and Nikiski, but High said that work is tied to flood repair projects in the southern end of the peninsula that continue to encounter environmental delays.
"Work on the Miller Loop-Island Lake-Spur Highway project will not start till next year," he said.
Any reconfiguration plans there, which might include new turning lanes on the highway, are still in the design stage.
"Everybody's worked real hard out there all summer, and I think the public's really noticing it," High said about all the road improvement projects completed this year.
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