Funny River Road project on tap to smooth out curves

Posted: Monday, October 04, 2010

Contractors plan to smooth Funny River Road's severe turn next construction season.

Land will be dug up from Airport Heights Street to the far edge of the airport. Southcentral Construction, which the city is in the process of contracting for the project, will clear the area and dig out material that won't work as a road base.

Afterwards the company will turn 1,350 tons of hot mix asphalt into a paved road.

Company president Ken Griner said the original road will remain open while crews build the new one. The roadwork will cost $716,211.50 of the project's $3,146,361.65 budget.

The Alaska Department of Transportation will maintain the road once the project is finished.

The department will also work on a right-of-way to go along the road, but the plans aren't completed yet.

"We're before step one," said department spokesman Rick Feller.

The land where the approximate right angle turn is located will be used for an airport expansion project. City Engineer Kyle Kornelis said that another construction project will expand the airport's apron to create space for more commercial lease lots.

City maintenance clerk Shelley Frost said that 95.5 percent of their commercial lots were being used as of last Wednesday. More than 30 commercial lots will be added as part of the expansion, she said.

Former Soldotna Airport Commission member Mike Larson considered the project a good use of funds.

"It's not a very user-friendly curve," he said.

The expansion will benefit what he described as a burgeoning flying community.

"The flying community is expanding," he said. "It needs a place to practice either their vocation or recreation."

Griner said that more than $1,500,000 will be spent to relocate water and sewer lines installed near the existing road.

Service will continue relatively uninterrupted during the project, according to Utilities Division Manager Rick Wood. He said that three businesses will lose water for a single two hour period according to his preliminary assessment, but refused to name which ones because plans aren't set at the moment.

"I don't want those businesses calling us up all winter," he said.

City water wells will supplement locals with water and sewage. Kornelis said that minor interruptions could occur and the city would try to schedule those during periods of little use. Southcentral will also extend the water and sewer lines down to the end of "the old city shop," said Wood.

The Soldotna City Council allowed the city engineer to execute the contract with Southcentral Construction at its last meeting.

Griner estimates the project will begin in mid-April and continue into September.

Kornelis said that he is waiting for the construction company to return a signed copy of the contract. Once returned, the country will have 180 days to complete the project.

The city engineer said that the deadline can be extended, however, if weather hinders progress or additional construction is needed.

Tony Cella can be reached at

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