State outlines a year of transportation projects at industry forum

Planning Manager David Post gave a presentation covering the department’s Surface Transportation Program

The State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities gave an update on road construction and maintenance plans for 2023 and beyond at the Industry Outlook Forum hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District in Homer on Thursday.

Planning Manager David Post called into the forum via Zoom, and gave a presentation covering the department’s Surface Transportation Program, including projects in development and under construction, as well as the Aviation Improvement Program and the Marine Highway System.

Post said capital projects in the Surface Transportation Program were funded primarily by federal money, while maintenance efforts were funded by the state.

The biggest projects Post said are in design phase are three efforts along the Sterling Highway, three along the Seward Highway, and one at their intersection.

On the Sterling Highway, the department is focusing on the area from Milepost 45-60, which is from Sunrise Inn to Skilak Lake Road; the Sterling Highway Safety Corridor, which is between Sterling and Soldotna; and the area from Milepost 157-169, which is on the southern side of the Kenai Peninsula, from Anchor Point to Baycrest Hill.

For the Seward Highway, the department is designing projects for the area between Mileposts 25 and 36, which is Moose Pass to Sterling Wye, the intersection with the Alyeska Highway, and the area outside Anchorage.

Post said the goal for work at the intersection between the two highways is to provide a free flow of traffic between Anchorage and Kenai, removing the need to stop. The project is also intended to lessen the risk of an avalanche in the area, and he said that they were evaluating options for reducing the steepness of the slope heading northbound.

As part of the presentation, Post showed a map of 2023 construction projects on the Kenai Peninsula. Two are area wide, including “rehabilitations” on all Kenai Peninsula bridge decks and an inventory and upgrade of guardrails.

Around Kenai and Soldotna, work will be done on the Kenai Spur Highway from Sports Lake Road to Swires Road, the improvements to the Sterling Safety Corridor will be implemented, and pavement preservation efforts will be implemented on Funny River Road and Cohoe Loop Road.

Around Homer, the reconstruction on the Sterling Highway from Anchor Point to Baycrest Hill will be implemented, as well as improvements to the Homer Airport.

Between Cooper Landing and Seward, the Quartz Creek Bridge will be replaced, a rehabilitation effort will be implemented on the Seward Highway from Mileposts 17 to 22.5, and a pavement preservation effort will be implemented from the Seward Highway’s Mileposts 0 and 8.

It wasn’t included in the map of construction projects Post showed, but he said that improvement efforts on the Seward Airport are also expected to begin construction this summer.

Post said projects are put into development for various reasons. Looking at the Sterling Highway from Milepost 45-60, he said improvements were being made to reduce congestion, meet more modern design standards and improve highway safety.

Ultimately, the department will construct 14 miles of new road in that project that is already underway, but which will not be complete until 2027. Post described a six-phase plan, of which four phases will be underway concurrently this year.

The Alaska Department of Transportation Update panel, as well as the other panels from the KPEDD Industry Outlook Forum, can be viewed online at “Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District” on YouTube. This panel begins around the 5 hour 55 minute-mark of the full stream archive.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at