Unexpected soil storage issues are causing Third Street to be closed during road construction for about six weeks starting Sunday night, according to an announcement by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
“We are closing Third Street to all vehicle traffic between the Old Steese Highway and the Steese Highway,” wrote Caitlin Frye, northern region information officer, in an email.
“Access to all businesses within the closure and west of the closure will be available via the Old Steese Highway. Access to all businesses east of the closure will be available via the Steese Highway,” she said.
Pedestrian access will remain open.
Construction has already begun in the area, and the closure is meant to keep the project on schedule.
“There used to be a dry cleaning business at the intersection of 40 Mile Avenue and Third Street, and we have since found dry cleaning solvents in the soil. We were aware of this during the design process,” Frye wrote. “We need to store more potentially contaminated soil in this tight construction site than we initially planned for, which is slowing down construction to the point that we need to change something to ensure this portion of the project is complete this summer.”
Space is limited for storing potentially contaminated soils pending soil testing, which is required before the soil can be moved off site, Frye said.
“We have to store these materials on-site while the test results are pending, which can take up to two weeks,” Frye wrote. “We don’t have many places to store materials here and we are needing to store more than we expected. The materials are taking up so much space that it has been difficult to progress with work. Closing the road will give us the extra space needed to complete this segment of work more quickly.”
The closure will allow two utility crews to work side-by-side. Currently, only one crew fits.
Frye said the DOT is hoping to open the segment of road between the Steese Highway and Eagle Avenue to two-way traffic in late June if possible.
The upside of temporarily closing Third Street completely is that the DOT will be able to open it to two-way traffic sooner than expected.
“We are trying our best to get the most benefit possible out of this closure,” Frye wrote.
For more information, go to the project website at dot.alaska.gov/nreg/3rd_street.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMborough.