Soldotna tentatively scheduled for road upgrades in 2016

SOLDOTNA — Pavement preservation preventative maintenance project. While it might be rough to say, it will hopefully mean smooth roads for Soldotna.

At a chamber luncheon on March 31, Sean Baski, project manager for the Alaska Department of Transportation, discussed an upcoming road improvement project for Soldotna tentatively scheduled for 2016.

The project will improve the Sterling Highway from Devin Drive near Fred Meyer to a third of a mile south past the Kalifornsky Beach Road turnoff. Baski said that the project would cost approximately $5 million, and about 90 percent federally funded.

The road isn’t going to be completely overhauled; instead, the project will consist of grading, drainage, paving, curb repairs, signalization, striping upgrades, as well as improved sidewalk ramps consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Instead of completely digging up the road, constructions crews will mill off and replace the top couple of inches of asphalt.

“We call this a “1R” project — just a resurfacing project,” Baski said. “So the whole goal is to do cost effective improvements. We’re trying to go in and spend our money wisely and really target, and make sure the pavement is in good condition.”

Baski said this type of preventative work could give the road an additional 5 to 10 years of life. One of the new improvements is a stronger type of paving material — hard aggregate.

Baski said that this type of aggregate is more expensive, but it has benefits.

“It’s a little bit beefier rock than we normally use on everyday pavement,” he said. “It should last a little bit longer as far as rutting goes.”

Aside from resurfacing the pavement, some light signals will have their loop detection signals replaced, including at the intersection leading to Kalifornsky Beach Road. The loops help detect when cars are present in order for smoother, more time-efficient signal changes.

Baski stressed said that these replacements would not require excessive work.

“Those loops are right underneath the asphalt, so we’re not talking about huge dig outs that require us to dig much of the road out,” he said.

Baski said the DOT hopes the maintenance can be completed during 2016 while also minimizing traffic disturbances.

“Generally we will try to limit traffic restrictions from July 10-28,” he said.

“Also around the Kenai River Festival — you don’t want to have workers out there working.”

While the details of the project have yet to be finalized, Baski said that most of the work would probably be done at night. Department of Transportation officials will monitor the work to ensure that reasonable access is provided to both businesses and residential buildings.

The road improvements will not only allow for smoother transportation, it will have economic benefits as well.

“Over time, we will have less liability for the state of Alaska in having to go in and do much deeper-seated work,” Baski said. “In the end, it will cost the state of Alaska less money. We’re very excited about that.”

11/19/2016 - 6:53pm