Construction Report: Section of University Ave closed until October of next year

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Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 4:34 PM AKDT
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The Alaska DOT has closed University Ave. between Airport Way and Geist Road until October of 2021. The closure comes as part of a multi-year project to improve University Ave.

(Alaska DOT)
(Alaska DOT)(Alaska DOT)

“This weekend we closed University Ave. north of the intersection with Airport -- the leg of the intersection that heads towards Geist. So that means as of this weekend you can no long travel from Airport to Geist and vise-versa on University,” said Caitlin Frye, an information officer with the Alaska DOT.

The first part of the closure is so crews can continue to rebuild the intersection of University and Airport. The improvements to that intersection include right turn lanes in all directions, longer left turn lanes, and a raised center median. The intersection will be closed on both sides of Airport Way until later this fall. The south side of the road towards Rewak Drive will reopen this fall.

The north side of University Ave. will remain closed through fall, winter, and all of next year’s construction season as crews remove the old bridge over the Chena River and build a new one.

Frye said they need to demolish the old bridge while water levels are low in the fall to ensure that no debris falls into the river. After they remove most of the bridge with equipment, divers will remove the rest of the pilings by hand.

Over the winter, crews will drive new piles, and then starting in the spring will begin rebuilding the bridge. Frye said that the new bridge will be the widest in Fairbanks at 88 feet. It will have separated sidewalks on each side of the bridge, shoulders and a center median.

“We know that these closures are really hard for people, and the detour on this one is going to be a pain -- that leg between Geist and Airport on University. There is a lot of traffic through there and we realize that is a big inconvenience for folks to have to travel around that closure,” Frye said.

She added that all businesses will remain accessible during the closure and that pedestrian access on University Ave. will remain open throughout the construction. While the old bridge is being rebuilt, Frye said they will be building a temporary pedestrian bridge to ensure that walkers, runners and cyclists can still easily access the area.

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