It’s Winnebago Time in the Central Kenai Peninsula, and the motorhomes and car campers are multiplying by the day. In an effort to head off any snarls with the normal summer traffic, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has had crews working 12-hours a day, and in some cases, around the clock.
One unscheduled project — replacing pavement and culverts on the North Road damaged by the November 7.1 Cook Inlet earthquake now has a projected completion date, according to DOT spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy.
“Finally wrapped up work just over the weekend, at mile post 19, 31 and 35.2. And those were culverts that were damaged during the earthquake. So our maintenance crews have replaced them and then graded the soil around them. So we'll be coming back,” she said. “We have actually had a contract out to hire a private contractor to do the paving. And so I anticipate that we would have that contractor on board to be paving by the end of the month.
Commuters in and out of Kenai on Bridge Access road know about delays. McCarthy says repairs to the bridge wound up being more involved than originally projected.
“We have an inspection program that inspects every bridge Alaska every two years. And the last fall, I think they finished inspection in August, they weren't happy with the expansion joint. So they opened it up and there was a lot more damage, they're having to re-pour concrete in that case,” McCarthy said. “Once you get into concrete work, it takes much longer. Concrete has to actually cure before you can put traffic back on it. So we've had to have lanes closed, we had to do basically all of the expansion joint, so both both ends of the bridge both to and from So, it’s taken a little bit longer than we were hoping for but it will be done, most likely by the end of the week.
And, McCarthy says, the extensive work on the Sterling Highway east of Soldotna is just about done.
“This is the one that they're really doing a tremendous amount in terms of they're doing passing lanes doing the pedestrian walkway, Skyline Trail access and of course shoulder widening and resurfacing. But they're also creating some wildlife amenities so that the wildlife can cross under the road versus you know conflicts with drivers on top of the road. So, pretty major, taking quite a bit working right now between milepost 70 and 77, grinding up and then we're using the asphalt right there,” she said. “I believe they're going 12 hour shifts on that. But they are starting to pave so we will see this project wrap up this season.
The Kenai Spur Highway project, extending five lanes the entire way from Soldotna to Kenai, still has another year of work before it is complete.