Bids for Fairbanks' Illinois Street project under review

Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities

After 30 years, work is finally pushing forward on improving Fairbanks’ Illinois Street. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has opened bids to reconstruct a major throughway to help correct confusing lane configurations and improve safety conditions.

Illinois Street is the city’s main access route downtown from the north. A number of safety concerns has spurred the state into pushing ahead.

Bidding for the project is now closed and DOT is reviewing the bids, after which a Letter of Intent to Award will be issued to the lowest responsible bidder. HC Contractors Inc. of North Pole is the apparent low bidder so far with an unchecked bid of $21,965,862 but DOT spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said that all bids are still being reviewed.

The work is intended to correct several issues. This includes improving inadequate pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as Bailey said there aren’t adequate sidewalks in the area. The work includes pavement improvements, drainage upgrades, lighting improvements and fixing sight problems.

Bailey said this will improve safety condition and enhance the street’s long-term growth and redevelopment.

The project also links College Road to a new bridge at the Chena River.

Work is scheduled to begin this year and continue through 2013.

“Work on the Illinois Street Reconstruction project started over 30 years ago,” she said. “To be at the point where we will see construction begin this summer is very exciting for everyone at DOT.”

Bailey said the department fully supports the downtown development and that such work normally doesn’t take so long to get under way, but each case is different. It depends on funding, the state’s priority of the project and the transportation needs involved.

“As transportation priorities have shifted, this project has risen to the top,” she said.

Factors that helped influence these priorities include an accident rate at Cushman Street and First Avenue that’s three times higher than expected and poor sight distance at Church Street due to the road curvature.

The unchecked bid is lower than DOT’s estimate of $22,687,027. The Fairbanks Daily-News-Miner has previously reported that the project would cost roughly $30 million.

Bailey said construction has already been going on for three years, such as on the Barnette Street bridge. The bridge is not in use yet but is expected to be completed toward the end of the year.

11/07/2016 - 7:38pm