Work continues on the roughly eight mile extension of road beyond the end of the Kenai Spur Highway in Nikiski. The long anticipated project will provide access to the Gray Cliff subdivision, currently only accessible by all-terrain vehicles.
Kevin Lyons, the borough’s capital projects manager, told the borough Policies and Procedures Committee this week they have just a couple miles left to clear.
“As of Friday (February 1st), we were at mile 6.1 headed for 8.2, with clearing (the road). We’ve experienced some snow, so it’s going to slow the contractor down a little bit on the clearing. How this project generally works is it’s hard to clear a swamp while it’s not frozen, so we’re doing all that clearing now. Then once the clearing is done, pretty much we’re just backing the trucks (up)...you guys are familiar with the homesteading roads built out there, except we’re doing it with better materials than they did in the past. We’ll be able to move forward once the clearing is complete.”
Some of those improved materials come in the form of geo-grid, the matting used to help keep soils stable in those work zones.
“A few things we’ve experienced as we’ve gone through the first couple swamps, we’ve added a few rock drains, we’ve...put some geo-grid in a few additional locations. We’ve had to, believe it or not, jackhammer a few boulders that we couldn’t get out of the way and break them up so we could keep them below grade. And we’ve relocated some drainage mats as you see what the natural drainage is doing. Other than that, we’ve been moving right along. The gravel has been going in pretty much according to plan. I think we’re a little bit ahead, maybe 1,000 cubic yards, but that goes up and down as we work through. In the uplands, we are doing the road as normal.”
Work on Jacob’s Ladder Drive will start when crews get past approximately mile four of the extension. The full 8.2 miles is expected to take some 300,000 cubic yards of gravel. Federal dollars were set aside for this project two decades ago, but the bureaucratic hurdles were only finally cleared early last year. Work will continue until that initial $6 million runs out.