The city of Fairbanks is rushing to complete construction on Gillam Way before it gets too cold to pave.

The city is installing a new storm drain in the area. The water and sewer work is complete. When the storm drain is finished, the road will be paved, a gutter and curb will be created and a sidewalk will be installed. Work on Gillam Way is from 22nd Avenue to Airport Way.

City engineer Robert Pristash says construction started “very late.” The contractor completing the work, Exclusive Paving, is working seven days a week, 12 hours a day to finish and pave the road before the snow flies.

“It can still be completed, but there’s a push right now,” he said.

Pristash was concerned that, with freezing weather approaching and a month of work left, the paving wouldn’t be completed on time.

“I’ve had a lot of close calls through the years, and this one ranks right up there,” he said.

The city manages the right of way, maintains the street and was involved in the design of the storm drain. Design has been years in the works, but now that work is underway, the real challenge lies in getting the work done without inconveniencing the people who live and work on Gillam Way.

“It’s always a balancing act between providing room to work and access for the residents,” Pristash said. “We always require access to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but if you’re digging past somebody’s driveway, there’s a time when they obviously can’t get into the driveway, so that obviously has to be coordinated.

“So it’s a balancing act, not only to the residents, but to the businesses, and the major concern now is the schools,” he said.

Buses serving Hunter Elementary, Ryan Middle and Lathrop High schools use Gillam Way as an access route, as do some parents. Now that the school year has begun, workers are using different methods to provide access to Gillam Way while work is being done.

“But it’s a complicated thing, and that’s the issue,” Pristash said.

If the paving cannot be completed on time, workers will have to install temporary pavement or fill it with D1, a weaker material than asphalt but a “step up from a gravel road.” Pristash is hopeful the city will not have to go that route, though, because maintenance can be a problem during winter and the material can get caught under tires and fly up, damaging vehicles.

The Alaska Department of Transportation coordinating and administering the project.

Other city construction projects

• Nearly eight years after the 2011 death of 11-year-old Jamison Miles Lee Thrun, new crosswalks are being painted and flashing school-zone signs will be installed on Loftus Road. Thrun, a sixth grader, was killed by an erratic driver while walking to University Park Elementary School.

• Fairbanks City Hall will be painted. Pristash said the building’s last paint job was 20 years ago.

• Golden Heart Plaza will receive maintenance to crumbling stairs, bronze plaques and other items.

• Wembley Avenue between Aurora Drive and Danby Street is getting a roundabout and a sidewalk.

• In Hamilton Acres, Ketchikan Avenue and Juneau Avenue are being resurfaced. Sidewalks are being installed on five streets in the area.

• Fifth Avenue is getting new sidewalks.

Road painting is happening at night in several parts of the city. Pristash said the focus is on crosswalks, but stop bars and arrows are also being repainted where they are worn away.

Contact Cheryl at 459-7572 or find her on Twitter: @FDNMcity.

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