A driver heads west on Pioneer Avenue at Svedlund Street on Monday, June 22, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. A retaining wall at the intersection in front of the Pioneer Car Wash was moved back and a utility pole removed to create a better sight line at the corner, part of a repaving project for Pioneer Avenue. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

A driver heads west on Pioneer Avenue at Svedlund Street on Monday, June 22, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. A retaining wall at the intersection in front of the Pioneer Car Wash was moved back and a utility pole removed to create a better sight line at the corner, part of a repaving project for Pioneer Avenue. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Paving starts Thursday on Pioneer Avenue

Correction: Initial patch paving on Pioneer Avenue began Thursday. Directional closures and the final top-lift paving are taking place Friday through Saturday morning.

A long-awaited road improvement project for Pioneer Avenue will be halfway to completion this weekend when paving starts on a section from West Pioneer Avenue at the Sterling Highway to Svedlund Street.

Paving began on Thursday, with delays expected for those driving on Pioneer.

From 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, through 8 a.m. Saturday, June 27, there will be directional closures on West Pioneer Avenue. Access to businesses will remain open, said Jason Baxley, project engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Crews will be on hand to direct traffic. Traffic will will go in west to east in one direction from the Sterling Highway at West Pioneer Avenue to Heath Street.

“We’re going to have a ton of flaggers,” Baxley said. “We’re going to have every flagger in the city hired on.”

Friday and Saturday’s work will put in what’s called the final top lift paving — essentially, laying down asphalt over gravel. Baxley said he hopes to see paving done on Pioneer Avenue from Svedlund Street to Lake Street within a few weeks.

No road work will be done over the July Fourth weekend from Thursday, July 2, through Sunday, July 5.

The repaving 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. By Monday, workers with the lead contractor, Southcentral Construction of Anchorage, had moved back a retaining wall at that corner and removed a utility pole.

“That is a huge improvement there now,” Baxley said.

Drainage improvements will address a frequent spring complaint of Pioneer Avenue drivers: a series of potholes from Main Street to Heath Street. About 25 storm drains have gone in to upgrade the system and better move water from rain and snow melt off the road. Cross flow across the road way also will be improved to better drain off water. Most of the storm drains have been installed as of this week, Baxley said, with the rest to be put in over the next few weeks.

“Putting those new storm grates on there is a huge improvement,” he said. “I think it will make the road last a lot longer this time.”

Striped crosswalks will be redone on Pioneer Avenue at Main Street, Svedlund Street and near Heath Street by Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love Park. The location of those crosswalks might shift slightly. Striped crosswalks are those where vehicles must stop for pedestrians entering the crosswalk. Curb cuts and crosswalks will be complinat with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Pioneer Avenue paving project is part of a series of improvements to downtown roads that started last summer with the installation of a traffic signal at Main Street and the Homer Bypass Road. The paving project was planned to start in late 2019, but was delayed until this construction season. Work will continue into 2021 with improvements to Lake Street.

Baxley said he appreciated the public’s patience during road work.

“I know it’s been painful, but the end is in sight,” he said.

For more information and updates on the project, visit alaskanavigator.org/projects/pioneer-avenue-pavement-preservation or 511.alaska.gov.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

A driver heads east on Pioneer Avenue toward Svedlund Street on Monday, June 22, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The road has been torn up as part of a repaving project for Pioneer Avenue. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

A driver heads east on Pioneer Avenue toward Svedlund Street on Monday, June 22, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The road has been torn up as part of a repaving project for Pioneer Avenue. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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