After citizens complained about a pending closure of the Anchor Point bridge over the Anchor River, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities confirmed last Friday it will delay repairs of the bridge abutment until a time to be set.
“It’s going to need a better fix. They didn’t want to shut it down right now,” said Shannon McCarthy, a department spokesperson, in a phone interview on Friday. “It’s a peak traffic time.”
In a notice on July 23, Gordon Lange, highway maintenance foreman for Peninsula District Maintenance and Operations, wrote that the Old Sterling Highway would be closed between Anchor Point Road and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Transfer Site.
That meant to access Anchor River campgrounds, people would have to drive to the north end of the Old Sterling Highway via the Sterling Highway and back south to the Anchor Point Road, about a 10-mile detour.
That won’t happen.
In an email forwarded to the Homer News, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Willy Dunne, who represents Anchor Point and rural areas of Homer, on July 25 queried Rep. Paul Seaton, N-Homer, about the pending closure. Dunne said some constituents had called him about it.
Last Thursday, Seaton said that after talking with local road maintenance staff and DOT&PF Commissioner Marc Luiken’s office, the decision was made to delay repairs. Anchor Point has already felt an impact to tourism from low king-salmon runs, and the bridge closure would hurt the economy even more, Seaton said.
McCarthy confirmed last Friday that repairs would be delayed. On about July 10, a bridge crew inspected the abutments, or the approaches to the old steel bridge, and found wood timbers holding up the abutment had rotted.
“They were concerned with the condition,” McCarthy said in a phone interview on Friday morning. “… The soil of the abutment was starting to flow down and under the bridge.”
McCarthy said maintenance crews put more gravel in the abutment as a temporary fix. When repairs are done latert, the wood timbers will be replaced with concrete supports.
“It’s still considered a temporary repair,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to replace the bridge.”
Department crews will monitor the bridge and abutment, McCarthy said.
Any bridge replacement would be largely paid for with federal funds. McCarthy said typically federal projects take about four years.