It will be a couple of seasons and result in enough delays and inconvenience that by the time the Kenai Spur Highway rehabilitation project from Soldotna to Kenai is done, it will be a welcome relief. That’s because the project will extend five-lane blacktop the entire distance between the Twin Cities.
The project stretches from Sports Lake Road to Swires Road, one of the larger being undertaken in the Central Peninsula this season. According to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities 511 Alaska Navigator website, Wolverine Construction will be expand the current two-lane road to five. Two in each direction with a center turning lane.
“It is a pretty big project," said Shannon McCarthy, a DOT spokeswoman in Anchorage. "The award was just under $13 million. It was $12,800,000, so that’s a pretty big project.”
The crews will also be constructing a new bike and walking path, improving drainage, extending slopes to make them less steep and installing new signage. But with the widening, most of the utility poles along that stretch will have to be set back.
“Whenever you’re taking a road like this to five lane, there’s a lot of additional engineering that has to take place, she said. "All the drainage has to be redone, everything has to be moved back, low spots have to be bridged, essentially. You know, not a bridge, but material has to be brought in and to make sure the drainage is still connected and flowing.”
McCarthy says brush clearing and off-road prep will occupy the next several weeks to accommodate the summer surge in traffic.
“As a department, we generally like to keep off of the roads down there during dipnetting season. In terms of we don’t want to have activity that restricts traffic," she said. "So there might be some temporary, let’s say a utility truck has to get off the highway, there’ll be an occasional flagger, but for the most part there’ll be no restrictions, lane restrictions, or restrictions to traffic movement until the first of August.”
Phase 1 of the project this year will complete about the first three of the six miles. Phase two will be finished by 2020.