Bridging the distance

Eklutna River Bridge project moves forward


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The Eklutna Bridge has been closed since May 2012. Construction on a new bridge is scheduled to start in 2015.

STAR FILE PHOTO

The Eklutna River Bridge replacement project is one step closer to completion.

R&M Consultants, Inc. representatives unveiled a draft of the design study report at a Dec. 11 open house meeting at Chugiak Elementary.

The preferred design concept for bridge replacement and roadway upgrade were presented to the public for discussion.

According to project manager Lance DeBernardi, the preferred design is similar to the Ship Creek Bridge in Anchorage.

The state granted $14 million for the project. Actual construction costs will run about $10.1 million. The remainder covers consultation, design and preliminary component fees.

Financial feasibility was the biggest selection criteria, along with ease of maintenance.

“The folks in the service area have to maintain this,” DeBernardi said.

The design incorporates a raised pedestrian pathway along the side of the bridge.

“Users of the (raised) pathway feel safer with the added visual barrier between themselves and traffic,” DeBernardi said.

The design also calls for 12-foot lanes over the bridge, with 4-foot shoulders.

“We don’t want to have to come back and expand the width,” project engineer Jason Osburn said. “We want this to be a one-shot project.”

Louis Huck, who lives in the Thunderbird Heights neighborhood, is looking forward to the bridge replacement.

With the bridge closed, Huck said, drivers traveling to the neighborhood from Wasilla must detour all the way to the Mirror Lake exit.

“It’s very inconvenient,” he said.

He’s happy with the preferred design choice.

“It’s cost efficient,” Huck said.

R&M Consultants will submit the design to the Planning and Zoning Commission in March. If approved, actual design process will begin soon after.

“We’re pushing to have the design completed by the end of next year,” DeBernardi said.

Another open house will take place next summer.

Construction should start in 2015.

“We’re hoping to open the bridge by the end of 2015,” DeBernardi said.

The projected lifespan of the replacement bridge design is 75 years.

The old bridge had been in use for almost 80 years. The Municipality closed it in May 2012 due to safety concerns.

 

Contact Cinthia Ritchie at 694-2727 or cinthia.ritchie@alaskastar.com.

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