As July comes to close, the short construction season in Alaska is about halfway over. The Alaska Department of Transportation is making progress on several projects in Fairbanks. According to DOT Public Information Officer Caitlin Frye, the Department is on schedule with all projects, the bulk of which should be completed by the end of construction season in October.
The biggest project in Fairbanks this summer is the Third Street widening project. Work continues and has resulted in the continued closure of several streets. Third Street is closed between Eagle Avenue and Hamilton Avenue and between the Old Steese and the Steese Expressway, according to Frye. Forty Mile Avenue off Third Street is also closed.
The project got a little behind schedule due to an issue with contaminated soil early in the summer but was able to catch up after closing the road to traffic. Currently, crews are installing a water main and doing underground utility work east of Eagle Avenue, between Eagle and Hamilton. To the west, workers are pouring concrete for curbs and gutters. Crews are working from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Construction is impacting the North Gate Square and Gavora Mall areas, however, access to all businesses remains open.
Ultimately, in addition to widening Third Street, a roundabout will be placed on Third Street at Eagle Avenue, with the goal of improving traffic flow. According to Frye, a portion will be completed this summer but there will be additional work on the Steese during the next construction season.
The University Avenue Bridge Replacement project is still ongoing, so the Chena River Bridge on University Avenue is closed until the fall. Crews are currently working on seismic bracing for the bridge and are pouring the slabs that connect the bridge to land. Pedestrians are able to cross the bridge throughout construction via a separate bridge. DOT tore down the old bridge last winter and is constructing a replacement this summer. The project is on schedule, according to Frye. There is not yet a scheduled opening date for the bridge, but Frye said it could be as late as November.
The project also involves widening a section of University Avenue from Wolf Run to the Airport Way intersection. Frye said that drivers should “expect new traffic patterns daily on University Avenue north of the bridge and south of the Geist Road and Johansen Expressway intersection.” Crews are currently working on pouring concrete for the curbs and sidewalks.
The Wendell Avenue Bridge is closed, as crews are working to replace it. Frye reported that crews are working on the abutments (the piece that connects the bridge to land) and are placing girders. They are “just about all the way across the river,” said Frye. This is also expected to be complete by the end of the construction season.
Another ongoing project is the Chena Hot Springs Road Rehabilitation and Roundabout project; DOT is repairing the road from the roundabout at the beginning of the road through mile 6 this summer. The work zone is currently from Mile Post 0.5 through Mile Post 3.4. Workers are currently smoothing the road to prepare for paving and have already paved some sections.
Frye said that drivers should be aware of lane shifts and a reduced speed limit in the work zone. The project is expected to be complete by the end of the season, Frye said.
The Rosie Creek Road improvement work has begun. DOT is installing culverts on Rosie Creek Road between Otter Slide Lane and Chena Pump Road. Drivers should prepare for a one-lane road and flagging operations, which will cause delays.
Through Wednesday, DOT is working on the barriers on the Mitchell Expressway between Lathrop Street and the Richardson Highway as part of the Fairbanks Area Concrete Barrier Upgrade project. Frye explained that drivers should expect crews, equipment on the road, reduced speeds and lane closures. The Concrete Barrier project is upgrading the barriers that divide large highways.
DOT is currently conducting FAST intersection improvements at the intersection of Sheep Creek Road and West Tanana Drive, near the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Work will take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drivers should expect minor delays and be aware of crews and flagging operations in the work zone.
Later in the summer, crews will work on the intersection of Chena Pump and Chena Point roads and the intersection between Cushman Street and 23rd Avenue.
Fairbanksans should also be aware of a few projects which have not yet begun. The Growden Area Accessibility improvement work is expected to begin next month. According to Frye, crews will construct a pedestrian path in Growden Park from Second Street to Stewart Street crossing Wilbur Street. The work is slated to be complete by the end of the construction season.
FAST Planning Sidewalk Improvements are slated to begin on Aug. 9 on the sidewalk on Snowman Lane from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.