Big-ticket projects on tap for 2002 construction season

PHOTO/James MacPherson/AJOC
It’s going to be a hectic year for road, bridge and airport builders around the state. Surface transportation construction will be up sharply in 2002.

This is due partly to work starting on big-ticket projects and partly to more federal money being available, thanks to Alaska’s influential congressional delegation in Congress.

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is estimating that $230 million worth of transportation projects -- highway and airport work -- are underway in the agency’s central region, which includes Southcentral and Southwest Alaska, according to Tom Moses, the regional construction engineer.

Actual expenditures will likely be a little less, but it’s still a big jump over $145 million spent on central region projects last year, Moses said.

The state’s projected project spending in the northern region, which includes Interior, northern and western Alaska, is $130 million this year, up from $90 million last year, according to Jim Weed, the northern region engineering chief.

Comparable statewide figures for spending this year aren’t easily available, but the amount of federal money available for transportation, which pays for most of the projects, has been steadily increasing.

Airport improvement projects slated for Anchorage, villagesBy Tim Bradner
Journal Reporter

A substantial amount of airport work is planned this summer. At Ted Stevens International Airport near Anchorage, improvements to several taxiways are planned along with new passenger terminal construction.

Airport improvement projects are under way in Eek, Kwethluk and Chefornak, and a major airport and local road project will get under way this fall at Iliamna.

A $7 million improvement to the east-west runway at Nome’s airport is planned to start in mid-summer. Beginning June 1 the runway will be closed, and only the north-south runway will be available for use.

Improvements to the Noorvik airport in northwest Alaska, a $7 million project, should be completed this year, as well as a $4 million airport improvement at Huslia in the western Interior.

Work will begin this fall on a $4 million airport improvement at Stevens Village on the Yukon River.

In the current federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, Alaska will receive about $420 million in federal transportation funds, up from about $327 million the previous year, according to Jeff Ottesen, statewide planning chief.

In addition to these funds, which are distributed by formula to the different states, Ottesen said Alaska additionally receives $30 million to $80 million per year in special appropriations for specific projects, due to efforts by the state’s delegation in Washington, D.C.

Since the state of Alaska must contribute another 10 percent in state matching funds, more than $500 million will be spent in total this year in construction of transportation infrastructure.

On the Parks Highway near Wasilla, work on highway widening, bridges and overpasses will continue, including completion of a $16 million interchange. A similar interchange was built in this area of the Parks last year, for approximately $15 million.

Another project improves the Palmer-Wasilla highway, as well as construction of a connecting road from the Glenn Highway to the Knik-Goose Bay road.

Later this summer, construction will start on a long-planned interchange at the junction of the Parks and Glenn Highways, near Palmer, at an estimated cost of $30 million to $50 million. The project will have a design-build contract, and proposals from builders are now being reviewed by the state, Moses said. The contract will be awarded in late June to the successful bidder, and work will be under way by fall, he said.

Farther north on the Parks, the highway will be realigned and repaved from Mile 57 to Mile 67. A new bridge will cross the Little Susitna River.

A big project on the Glenn Highway from Mile 100 to 109 will rebuild the road and build a new bridge at Caribou Creek. This is also a $30 million to $50 million project.

A number of projects are under way in Anchorage. In South Anchorage, work will continue on widening the Old Seward Highway from Dowling to Dimond Boulevard, and Arctic Boulevard from Raspberry Road to Dimond Boulevard, and repaving of Northern Lights and Benson boulevards in Midtown Anchorage.

Dowling Road will be improved from New Seward Highway to Lake Otis Boulevard and Lake Otis will be repaved from Abbott Road to O’Malley Road.

On the Seward Highway, improvements are planned from Seward to Mile 8, including new bridges. Five other portions along 42 miles of the Seward Highway are being rebuilt this summer near the turnoff to the Sterling Highway.

A major project on the Seward Highway nearer Anchorage is reconstruction of the highway across the Bird Flats, an area between Bird Creek and Girdwood where the highway now runs for a long stretch in an active avalanche zone.

In the northern region, a new interchange is planned on the Richardson Highway and Badger Road intersection, near Fairbanks, according to Jim Weed, a regional project engineer.

The Dalton Highway to the North Slope will be surfaced from Mile 111 to Mile 144, and Mile 335 to Mile 362. The Elliot Highway, which connects the Dalton Highway to Fairbanks, will be resurfaced from Mile 28 to Mile 72.

06/09/2002 - 8:00pm