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Construction Report: University Avenue bridge project aims for early fall finish

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:20 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As the second half of the University Avenue bridge project continues, motorists are stilling detouring using the Mitchell Expressway or Peger Road.

This closure is happening because for the first time since 1963, the street is getting a new bridge across the Chena River.

Caitlin Frye, Northern Region Information Officer with the Alaska Department of Transportation, said the new bridge construction “entails tearing down the old bridge, which we did this winter, and then this summer we’re putting up the new one. So they drove the piles into the river, the supports for the bridge, that was done this winter, and they recently finished putting the girders on top of those supports. So now we’ve got structures all the way across the river, and now they’re working on pouring concrete for the bridge deck.”

Pedestrians can still get past construction without a detour. Frye explained, “We’ve been maintaining pedestrian access the whole time. There’s actually a separate bridge just for pedestrians, and a separate path you can take around the construction zone.”

People floating or boating under the bridge need to be able to control their craft, as construction creates extra obstacles in the water. Frye warned, “There is a lot more in the river than there usually is. We have a pedestrian bridge, a work bridge and the new bridge that are all in the river right here, so as long as you know how to control your boat and you make sure that you stay alert, pay attention to the signs that are along the river as you’re approaching, then you’ll be fine.”

The bridge is expected to be complete and open before winter hits. “We’ll be working on this project until the very end of construction season, so that’s usually the end of summer or beginning of fall,” Frye said.

When construction is complete, this section of University will have a median, shoulders and wider sidewalks.

Next summer is expected to see more construction on University Avenue between Airport Road and the Mitchell Expressway.

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