Alaska Department of Transportation

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

There’s a new pond near Cooper Landing. It formed as snowmelt and drainage from a creek pooled in the underpass at the bottom of Skyline Trail, blocking hikers from going under the highway to get from the parking lot to the trailhead.

The underpass is new. It was built in 2019 and cost the state just under $400,000, as part of a larger Sterling Highway rehabilitation project.

Now, it’s unpassable because of all the water.

Hannah Etengoff

For four and a half hours Monday night, the only road to the Kenai Peninsula was blocked in both directions by an avalanche near Summit Lake.

The avalanche hit around 4:20. Hannah Etengoff was driving back home to Kenai with her husband and dogs.

Department of Transportation

Regardless of how the tourism season shapes up, Cooper Landing will have over 100 new faces this summer.

They’ll be in town to work on the Sterling Highway bypass project, the plan to divert traffic between mileposts 45 and 60 of the highway up to a bridge across Juneau Creek Canyon. Construction is ramping up on the project this summer.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Funny River Road, the Seward ferry terminal and a well-traveled stretch of the Sterling Highway are all on the shortlist for upgrades from the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Redoubt Reporter

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has approved four long-term, non-permanent positions for hire for the Silvertip Maintenance Station on the Seward Highway.

Due to budget cuts, the Silvertip station, which covers plowing and maintenance for a large part of the Seward Highway, closed last year. Public pressure and a push from Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche prompted the state to agree to reopen the station late last month.

Alaska 511

The Silvertip Maintenance Station may be small but it covers a well-traveled, 60-mile swath of the Seward Highway, stretching from Moose Pass up through Turnagain Pass and the 17-mile Hope Highway.

Facing a dwindling budget, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities closed the station last winter and relied on neighboring stations to pick up the slack. But an outpouring of pushback from local travelers and Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche has prompted the state to reopen the station, promising a restoration of full-time plowing and road maintenance to the area this winter.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

With more than a third of the design complete, the Alaska Department of Transportation wants to hear from the public about its plan for the Sterling Highway bypass, between mileposts 45 and 60.

Members of the public can view the online presentation and contact DOT with questions until Nov. 5. Project staff took questions and comments via live online chat this evening.

There was also an in-person Q&A scheduled for this Thursday in Cooper Landing, though that has since been canceled due to low RSVPs.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

The Alaska Department of Transportation is trying to wrap up road projects before winter sets in. Drivers should expect delays for the next couple of weeks. In Kenai, Bridge Access Road paving is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept 19 through Sept. 21. That’ll result in one-lane traffic and delays of 15 to 20 minutes.

On the Seward Highway, from Mile 37 to 52 near Summit, DOT is switching to day work in its passing lane project. Warmer day-time temperatures are better for paving. Construction hours are now 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Driving through Cooper Landing lately, it’s hard not to notice the swath of trees cut down north of the highway. Or what will become the old highway as the new alignment of the Sterling Highway is built between miles 45 and 60.

This is the first year of noticeable construction on the project.

Project Manager Sean Holland, with the Alaska Department of Transportation, says it’s going well, all things considered.

“We were struck with a fire last year so our survey got shut down for six or eight weeks, and then we come up with a pandemic this year so I don’t know if it could get any worse next year but we’re still making good progress anyway,” Holland said.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

 The Kenai City Council is going ahead with funding a new bike path along Bridge Access Road, but not without some trepidation.

The project would connect the new bike path along Beaver Loop Road to the existing Unity Path route through the City of Kenai by creating a separated path along Bridge Access Road. Most of it will be paid for by a federal passthrough grant, with a 9 percent match from the city. The city council has no problem with the project; the problem is the cost.

The cities of Kenai and Soldotna each have local trail improvement projects in the works for this year, but a change in state policy has thrown wrenches into them.

Kenai is planning to build a paved bike path between the junction of the Kenai Spur Highway and Bridge Access Road down to Beaver Loop Road. This would connect to the newly paved separate bike path along Beaver Loop, creating a completely separated bike path loop between Kenai and Beaver Loop. Soldotna is planning to pave paths in Soldotna Creek Park and expand a path along Homestead Lane toward Swiftwater Campground.

The state of Alaska says drivers can feel free to leave their studded tires on for an extra couple weeks. Studs are allowed in Alaska from Sept. 15 through April 30, but the Alaska Departments of Public Safety and Transportation announced last week that the deadline to remove those tires is being extended to May 11.

ADOT/HDR

Design work is continuing on the Sterling Highway Mile 45 to 60 project, otherwise known as the Cooper Landing bypass. The Department of Transportation’s schedule calls for work to begin in 2020, with the project open to traffic in 2025.

Katherine Wood, public outreach lead with HDR, the engineering firm doing the design for the project, gave an update in Cooper Land on Feb. 25. The project will be tackled in five phases. Phase one is improving the existing highway at either end of the project. Phase two is constructing a bridge over Juneau Creek.

Phase three is creating an embankment on the east end of the project where the new road will leave the existing highway near the Quartz Creek Road intersection and head up to the Juneau Creek crossing. Phase four is constructing the new highway to the west of Juneau Creek to where it rejoins the existing highway at Mile 56. Phase five is finish work — signage, striping and creating a new trailhead for Reserection Pass Trail.

“Our overall schedule really hasn’t changed. The west piece of the on-alignment part of the project will be bid to a contractor this fall to enable construction to start next year. And the east will be bid in 2021,” Wood said.

Freezing, thawing to continue through New Year's

Dec 30, 2019
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

 

Finding out about highway conditions in Alaska got a lot easier Friday, as the Alaska Department of Transportation rolled out a new 511 traveler information system.

Caitlin Frye, northern region information officer for DOT, says the new system can be accessed by calling 511, visiting 511.alaska.gov or downloading the new 511 Alaska mobile app.

“We’re kind of bringing our 511 system into the modern age, Frye said. “Our old system was not really built for how people get information these days, especially on mobile devices. It’ll have a lot of new features that we’re really hoping will be able to give drivers a fuller picture about road conditions, and just make it easier to find information.”

Winter work continues on Cooper Landing Bypass

Dec 11, 2019
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

 

Prep work continues on the long-anticipated Cooper Landing Bypass project. The upfront work began this fall with the first of five phases. The project will work from either end, at mileposts 45 and 60, and in toward the middle.

 

Redoubt Reporter

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is asking the state to reconsider its closure of a remote highway maintenance station on the Peninsula.

Daytime delays and lane closures on Seward Highway

Jun 18, 2019
Alaska DOT

Travelers to the Kenai Peninsula should plan for delays during weekdays along Turnagain Arm for the rest of the month. The Alaska Department of Transportation is conducting analysis of the rock face between miles 104 and 114 of the Seward Highway, and that requires bucket trucks, cherry-pickers, ladders and maybe even some rappelling.

ADOT&PF

  A fast break-up this year is causing further delays through the well-travelled Sterling Highway corridor south of Soldotna. Originally scheduled to be closed for a week, the detour — which forces drivers to take Kalifornsky Beach Road — will be extended a second week.

Road construction season underway

Apr 1, 2019

 

The equipment was getting staged even before the snow was all gone along the Kenai Spur Highway, just outside town.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

Heavy winter weather continues to pound portions of the Kenai Peninsula, especially in the mountain passes heading toward Turnagain Arm.

As we reported earlier, Alaska’s campaign sign laws are a complex combination of state rights-of-way, private-property rights, federal highway law and a 1998 Alaska citizen voter initiative that passed with nearly 75 percent approval that should have left our roadsides pristine.

It is, in essence, very simple, according to Heather Fair, the chief of the DOT’s Right of Way division.

“Any sign visible from the traveled way is not allowed,” she told KDLL last month when campaign signs first started sprouting. 

Five lanes soon to connect Twin Cities

Jul 13, 2018
ADOT

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.

ADOT

 

Commuters on the east portion of Kalifornsky Beach Road may have already noticed, but all drivers should be aware that the temporary traffic signals that are being installed are not the standard type that can detect stopped and waiting cars.

According to the Alaska DOT project "Navigator" website, these lights are on a timer, not detection, so the usual signal patterns drivers may be accustomed to have changed.

Route finalized for Cooper Landing bypass

Jun 1, 2018
National Highway Administraton

  Well, it's official: The Juneau Creek Alternative will be the route the Sterling Highway will take in future years as it skirts around Cooper Landing. The decision was made final on Thursday by the Federal Highway Administration.

An area better known for rock falls and avalanches was shut down for over five hours Monday morning due to a large landslide. The rock, soil and vegetation closed lanes in both directions of the Seward Highway at Milepost 105, just west of Indian. 

Shannon McCarthy, Department of Transportation Central Region spokeswoman, says the highway was reopened at about noon.

“I see a lot of rockslides along that section of highway, but we don’t typically see a lot of areas which are treed that slide,” she said.