Construction has started on the Pioneer Avenue Pavement Preservation Project, which will replace and repave the asphalt surface.
Much of the asphalt road surface has already been removed, and this weekend from 6 a.m. on Friday to 7 p.m. on Monday the intersection of Bartlett Street and Pioneer Avenue will be closed.
Drivers should follow posted detour routes via Main Street and Fairview Avenue. Business access will be open. Access to the South Peninsula Hospital main entrance at Bayview Avenue and Hohe Street will remain open from Main Street.
The project will install drainage, replace some sidewalks and curbs, and improve curb cuts at street corners, and address some sight line issues, especially at the intersection of Svedlund Street and Pioneer Avenue.
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Project Manager Jason Baxley said the retaining wall in front of the Pioneer Car Wash will be moved back 10 feet and a utility pole there will be removed.
The work is being done by Southcentral Construction of Anchorage. Co-owner Ken Griner said construction will be done in stages so at to minimize the impact on businesses along Homer’s main downtown street.
“We’re not going to tear it all up at once,” he said. “We’re going to work in segments.”
There will be about three closures over the summer and fall for work at crossings that cannot be done without disruption to traffic.
Drainage improvements will address a frequent spring complaint of Pioneer Avenue drivers: a series of potholes from Main Street to Heath Street that might remind old timers of the days when Pioneer Avenue was an unpaved gravel road.
About 25 storm drains will go in to upgrade the system and better move water from rain and snow melt off the road. Baxley said cross flow across the road way also will be improved to better drain off water.
“This is the state improving what you have there,” Griner said. “You’ve got to have someplace to go with that (water). If you don’t have the manholes in place, that goes down the road.”
Griner said Southcentral Construction has been following state mandates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In the office, staff maintain social distancing. Most meetings are being done over the phone. Because the Pioneer Avenue construction site is wide open and without closely confined spaces where crews have to work, social distancing is easier on the job site. Masks for crews or flaggers aren’t required but are suggested, particularly for workers who have to interact with the public, such as giving traffic directions.
“They’re the ones who have to deal with public in some way or manner,” Griner said. “We encourage it. It’s not mandatory, (but) it’s one of those, ‘be safe, don’t be stupid.’”
Construction work is expected to be complete by November. For updates, visit https://www.alaskanavigator.org/projects/pioneer-avenue-pavement-preservation or https://511.alaska.gov/