Some of the last pieces of the old Kenai River bridge in Soldotna are being chipped away this winter as construction crews prepare the foundation for a new one.
Scott Harter, project manager for Wilder Construction Company, said crews would start pouring the footing for the new bridge's south end early this week.
But the major work will be ongoing throughout the winter.
Earlier this summer crews built a coffer dam in the middle of the Kenai River to make a waterless chamber to remove some of the infrastructure from the old bridge.
That is now complete.
Harter said the dry dam around the old bridge's center pier has been drained, allowing workers to remove the pier. Removing that pier and building a new one will take most of the winter, he said.
"The center pier has been the biggest amount of work we've had to do," he said.
Once the old pier is removed, there will have to be more excavation so the new one can be built deeper in the ground, he said.
When that is complete, crews will begin to install pilings 36 feet into the ground to support the center pier.
The coffer dam will be removed after the center pier is competed.
"It's been a lot of work in a small area," said Matt Coullahan, project engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
Another project in progress is the installation of the new stop light at Kobuk Street and the Sterling Highway.
The temporary light was removed Nov. 1 and installation of the permanent stop light could take as long as three weeks to finish.
"I don't think it will take that long but, we have to error on the safe side," he said.
Coullahan said the new signal poles and light were ordered earlier this year, but it took several months for equipment to arrive.
"We have been patiently waiting for them," he said.
Coullahan said winter installation is ideal for this project, otherwise summer traffic would have been an issue.
He said he also wanted the project done before the start of the Arctic Winter Games in March.
During the next three weeks, electricians also will be working on various highway lights between the bridge and Kobuk Street.
Clarion reporter Sara J. Hardan-Smith contributed to this story.
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