‘Robust’ summer of construction well under way

140 transportation improvement projects are scheduled across 64 communities.

This summer will be host to what the State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is describing as a “robust 2023 construction season.” A release from the department says that 140 transportation improvement projects are scheduled across 64 communities.

According to information from the department, 12 projects are currently underway in the Kenai Peninsula Borough — making the borough the third busiest for the department behind Anchorage and Fairbanks.

The bridge on Quartz Creek Road was classified as “functionally obsolete” because of its low load limit, according to the department, and work to entirely replace it was scheduled to begin in March. The six-month project, which will stretch to the end of September, will include construction of a temporary detour bridge to maintain traffic, then complete replacement of the existing bridge.

At the end of March, rehabilitation work was scheduled to begin on the Kenai Peninsula Bridge, which is located in Cooper Landing along the Sterling Highway. Information from the department says that the project will include work on the bridge deck, including structural repairs, rail upgrades, repaving and other fixes. The project “will” cause delays, lane closures and potentially detours, the department says. Completion isn’t scheduled until May of next year.

Two projects are described for the Seward Highway.

The first is a full resurfacing of the Seward Highway from Mileposts 0 to 8, which stretches from the start of the road in Seward by the Alaska SeaLife Center through Bear Creek and Woodrow. That project, scheduled to start at the end of April and run through September, will include improvements to sidewalks, guardrails and signage “as necessary.” There will be scheduled closures and detour routing.

The second Seward Highway project, scheduled to start at the same time, is a “rehabilitation” from Mileposts 17 to 22.5. This includes replacing Victor Creek Bridge, repairing Snow River Bridges and installing new grading, drainage, pavement and signage. This project is causing “ongoing lane and road closures,” and is scheduled until mid-October.

This week, the department was slated to begin an inventory and upgrade of the guardrails around roadways “50 miles per hour and above.” This includes the Kenai Spur Highway, the Sterling Highway and the Seward Highway, as well as others around the peninsula. Guardrails will be replaced “as necessary,” but the department says this effort shouldn’t have any significant impacts on traffic. This process is scheduled through late November.

Also this week, the department was scheduled to begin “improvements” to Homer Airport. That project will involve widening the area around the runways, rehabilitating the runways and replacing culverts and taxiway lighting. The department says the runway and taxiway widths need to be updated to “current standards,” and that while the work is being done runway operations will be reduced during the day. The project is scheduled for completion in late October.

Five projects are scheduled around the Sterling Highway.

Three of these all have to do with the larger Milepost 45-60 project, or the Cooper Landing Bypass Project. That project will ultimately construct 15 miles of new highway that goes north of Cooper Landing and crosses Juneau Creek, but it isn’t set to open until 2027. This year, work will be underway on Stages 2, 3 and 4 of the project — but the department says none of these should result in any significant traffic impacts. The department instead warns of “large equipment” accessing the site at Juneau Creek Road near Sterling Highway Milepost 53 and Bean Creek Road near Milepost 47.5.

Near Anchor Point, 12 miles of the Sterling Highway through Baycrest Hill will be reconstructed to widen the road and add passing lanes, scenic turnouts and drainage improvements. The department says the project is important to improve safety and capacity, as well as to replace crossings that are “nearing the end of their service life.” The project will also include work on the North Fork Anchor River and Anchor River Bridges. There will be delays, lane closures and detours, the department says, but “reasonable access will be maintained.” That project is set to start at the end of June, running until February.

The final project scheduled for the Sterling Highway is dependant on approval of a federally funded “Design-Build” contract. If approved, the project would design and construct a four-lane divided highway from Sterling Highway Mileposts 82.5 to 94 — through Soldotna and Sterling from roughly East Redoubt Avenue to Great Land Street. That project is targeted to start by the end of the year and run through August 2025.

Almost all of Cohoe Loop Road, which begins in the community of Cohoe and intersects with the Sterling Highway near Anchor Point, is set for pavement preservation work. The department notes that lane closures are expected, but says that the work is necessary to reduce future costs and extend the life of the road. No dates are available for this project.

A similar pavement preservation effort is set for Funny River Road, which was closed for 37 hours just last week after part of the road collapsed due to a culvert failure. The department says that there will be lane closures, but again notes that the work is necessary to keep the road in good working order. No dates are available for this project.

For more information about any of the projects described, as well as maps of the affected areas, visit dot.alaska.gov/construction.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.