$40M Seward Hwy. project tops summer work
Alaska’s roads always need work, especially after a long winter.
The Institute of Social and Economic Research forecasts that $585 million will go into highway projects this year. This is a 10 percent increase over last year’s highway spending, which mostly comes from increased grants in the state capital budget.
Federal money will continue as a large contributor for the roads. However, Alaska may see a drop in federal money in future years once Congress replaces the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users, which expired in 2009 but money has continued to be issued on a continuing resolution.
More than $120 billion is appropriated in the state capital budget for various road projects through the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and now will go to the governor’s office.
Anchorage is getting a few big projects going this year. Most notable is the $40 million widening of Seward Highway to accommodate one of the highest traffic volume areas in the state.
The work between Dowling Road and Tudor Road will take place over the next few years, expanding the road from four lanes to six as well as improving existing interchanges. Four new bridges at Campbell Creek are part of the project.
The additions will add a lane in each direction to accommodate the present traffic flow and expected increases. City officials state the area gets 76,000 vehicles per day on average. This is expected to increase to 92,000 vehicles per day by the year 2035.
There will also be work on a $13.5 million project on West Dowling Road to provide better east and west traffic flow and reduce traffic on Dimond Boulevard and Tudor Road.
This project is to help develop a more connected roadway pattern as identified in Anchorage’s long-range transportation plan, which identifies West Dowling as a top priority project.
Fairbanks is planning several big road projects as well. According to a list from City Engineer and Public Works Director Michael Schmetzer, the biggest is a $9 million reconstruction and extension project at Bentley Mall Road and Helmerick’s Avenue. The project also calls with the inclusion of two roundabouts.
Other major projects include the resurfacing of several areas in Fairbanks and North Pole, including Executive Park Estates, First Lewis Street, 2nd Avenue, Yukon Drive, Vue Crest and Parkland Drive.
A bike path behind Scenic Park will also be resurfaced. The work is estimated to cost between $1.5 million and $3 million and is part of the Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System’s preventative maintenance.
A $2.5 million street lighting project will involve phase II LED lighting.
Jonathan Grass can be reached at [email protected].