Concrete barrier work that started on the intersection of Johansen and Geist road on Saturday will resume Monday and continue all week, moving toward Danby.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has been working to improve road safety and replace concrete barriers on certain corridors around the Fairbanks area with new ones meeting current design standards. Last year and earlier this season, workers completed work on Mitchell Expressway, Steese Highway and the Richardson Highway at North Pole. Now, they will focus on the barriers all along the Johansen Expressway.
The old barriers have been around for several decades and “needed to be replaced because they were at the end of their life,” explained Caitlin Frye, Northern Region Information Officer at DOT. Additionally, the new barriers will have yellow reflective delineator strips along the face of the barrier to improve visibility, especially during dark winter months.
The department tested different types of reflective strips to see how well they worked, but struggled to keep them in place.
“People really liked them and thought they really improved visibility, but the problem was that our snowplows kept ripping them off until we tried a few different ways to attach them to the existing barriers,” Frye said.
The DOT maintenance team and engineers worked together to find the solution to “keep those reflective strips that people like and also reduce the maintenance burden of replacing them all the time.” The new strips are “recessed into the barrier like in a little pocket.”
The workers started upgrading the patch of Geist and Johansen intersection on Saturday, keeping the road open, but closing some of the lanes. They plan to complete the patch of Johansen Expressway to Danby Road by the end of the week. Starting Monday, the work hours will be from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“People are going to hit those lane restrictions, like the one lane closure in both directions in the morning, but we hope to be out of there by the time the evening rush happens,” Frye said. “So it should be better on your way home, but when you’re going to work or school in the morning, we will be working.”
Drivers should be alert to reduced speeds Monday through Saturday. Frye reminded that workers are standing on the road on the other side of the cones, and it’s important for the drivers to slow down.
“It’s not a comfortable situation for a worker to be on a high speed road like that just on the other side,” she said. “So we just really want people to watch out for the workers. Don’t look at your phone, stay alert and please slow down when you’re going through.”