Road construction wrapping up

Crews finishing projects before winter sets in


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A relatively mild construction season is coming to a close in Eagle River, with crews wrapping up final punch lists on a handful of projects around town.

One of the largest projects, updating drainage systems in the Breckenridge Drive and Farm Avenue areas, is about 95 percent finished, Eagle River Street Maintenance general foreman Mark Littlefield said.

The project is part of an ongoing effort to address drainage issues in the northeast section of town that have gotten worse as Eagle River has developed.

Farm Avenue funnels water that comes down the hill from Skyline Drive, Littlefield explained earlier this summer. The water flows into the Glenn Highway drainage system. So does runoff from Breckenridge. But with increased development the collector pipes have become overloaded and draining water backs up into houses.

There were a few temporary road closures near the projects, Littlefield said. But the most significant closure was that of the bicycle and pedestrian path paralleling the Glenn Highway, which was closed from July 20 to Sept. 14. Traffic along the path was rerouted, Littlefield said.

Littlefield said work on the project was delayed due to heavy rains that swamped the area.

“We got drenched a couple of times,” Littlefield said.

Three Alaska Department of Transportation projects are also wrapping up in the area. A 1950s-era bridge over Peters Creek was successfully replaced as part of a road rehabilitation project along the Old Glenn Highway. That project included road improvements between South Birchwood Loop and Ski Road.

State Transportation Department spokesman Rick Feller said work on that project is nearly complete, although “there may be some tidying up to do,” he said.

A larger project to install tall lights along the Glenn Highway between South Birchwood and Eklutna will continue on into the fall. Transportation officials plan to have the project wrapped up before snow falls.

Feller said nearly 300 lights are being installed along a 10-mile stretch of the Glenn Highway. The project will make lighting along the highway nearly continuous between Anchorage and Wasilla, with a gap between Eklutna and the Knik River Bridge, he said.

Federal stimulus funding paid for the project and is to blame for the gap in lighting. Feller said the stimulus funding came with a time limit. Adding lights along the Hay Flats would have taken more design and permitting time than was available, he said. The flats are a wetland area with unstable ground and historic and cultural concerns that come into play with construction projects such as installing new lighting.

Despite the gap, Feller said Transportation officials believe the new lights will increase driver safety.

“It increases the sight distance so you see things coming onto the road much easier. You have greater control of yourself in bad weather conditions. From a commuter perspective, it just gives you a feeling of confidence and comfort that you don’t have on an unlit road,” Feller said.

The first year of a two-year project to repave Eagle River Loop between the Glenn Highway and its intersection with Eagle River Road, is also wrapping up, Feller said. Crews will add striping along the unfinished roadway during the next break of good weather and install curb ramps this season, he said.

Next year, contractor Granite Construction will add a sealcoat over the paving and apply permanent road striping. Feller said the $2.6 million project should be finished by June 15.

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