Construction Report: Renovations on the Nenana-Tochaket Road

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 8:57 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With new accessibility demands, the Nenana-Tochaket Road is in need of major renovations, but the road ahead is long and unfinished.

In 2022, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began the sale of agricultural parcels along the Nenana-Tochaket Road. As residents purchased their farm tracts, the need for rehabilitation on the road was emphasized as farmers work to bring in heavy equipment and supplies.

“Originally the proposal for the road was to, actually one, construct improvements to the existing 12 mile Tochaket Road and then also push another approximately 19 miles beyond the existing road, towards the banks of the Kantishna River,” said Jonathan Hutchinson, the project manager for the renovation. That proposal, however, did not fare well with community members and stakeholders.

The new plan is much smaller as a result. The project as it currently stands will only extend the road about five miles, to the end of the agricultural area.

While extending the road is a big part of the project, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will have to replace some bridges, plus rehabilitate some spur roads. Currently there are three bridges at the beginning of the road, all of which were meant to be temporary. “We will be replacing all three of those bridges with brand new bridges and keeping access open to the public during construction of those bridges,” said Hutchinson. The DOT expects those replacements to take place in the fall and early winter. There are also only three spur roads for the time being, two of which are only 6 miles in. “Those roads are actually being incorporated into DNR’s plans for subdivision development,” Hutchinson said. As part of that development, the DOT will also be creating new spur roads, but that work will happen at a later date. Currently they lack funding for the expansions.

Other work that will be delayed includes widening the road. “Right now the existing road is an average of 18 feet wide,” said Hutchinson. “It can accommodate two lane traffic, but some larger equipment would be single lane for those.” The DOT hopes to expand the road to 24 feet wide. That will likely happen next season.

So far, completed road work includes improving drainage at five mile slough. Usually the section of road passing over the slough would see washout during break up, but the new drainage pipes added to the road have proven to be effective at preventing the washout.