University Ave. project continues as crews assemble pedestrian bridge

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 4:15 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A multi-year project to expand University Avenue is moving into the next phase as crews assemble a temporary pedestrian bridge to prepare for demolition of the current bridge over the Chena River. According to Caitlin Frye, the Northern Region Information Officer for Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT), the workers are currently assembling the temporary bridge and driving piles into the river. After that is done they will set the bridge on the piles for pedestrians and bikes to use.

The University Avenue bridge was closed to vehicle traffic earlier in the year as crews rebuilt the intersection of University Ave. and Airport Way. The primary bridge will remain closed until the fall of 2021 as it is removed and a new bridge is built in its place.

“The contractor is also working on building the temporary work bridge. That’s the bridge that the construction workers are going to be on as they build the new bridge," Frye said.

She said the bridges should be finished soon. “Over the next couple of weeks we expect the temporary work bridge will be up and able to be used and at that point we are going to start demolishing the old bridge.”

Frye said one of the reasons the project is taking over a year to finish is because of all the work they have to do.

“Essentially what we are doing here is building three bridges and demolishing an old bridge all within about a year. We are building a temporary pedestrian bridge, and a temporary work bridge. Both of those require driving pile into the river. As you can see from all the materials around me, there is a lot of work that goes into that. We then have to demolish this bridge, and then we have to build a new bridge that’s going to be the biggest bridge in Fairbanks. So there is a ton of work to do with this project,” said Frye.

After the new bridge is built they have to take down the temporary bridges and pull the piles out of the river.

Another challenge for the project is the utilities that ran under the bridge.

Frye told us, “This bridge just had a ton of utilities running across it. There were water, sewer, communication lines, telephone, electric lines, all running across this bridge. So before this bridge could start to be demolished, all those utilities had to come off of the bridge.”

She said some of the utilities were bored under the river. The rest have been temporarily rerouted until the new bridge is built.

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