Dept. of Transportation puts down last layers of asphalt as winter closes in
Final few road projects are wrapping up as winter settles in
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As temperatures drop and roads freeze over, the Alaska Dept. of Transportation (DOT) faces a rush to finish up a few projects that remain incomplete. While some of those projects won’t be completed until the summer, completing the phases that begin this season is vital for winter traffic.
Cold air and frozen roads might sound like show stopper for completing summer road work, but in the northern most state, DOT does not turn away from fear of frost. A handful of large construction projects remain underway as we move closer to Halloween and there’s no concern of catastrophe.
“Snow is less of an issue for us than temperatures are,” said John Perreault, an information officer for the DOT. “As long as the temperatures remain in a workable area, we can adjust our mixes for paving to continue paving operations.”
With conditions still in the operable areas, the DOT has their focus set on finishing the overpass at mile 359 of the Richardson Highway. For this season, the only objective has been finishing the north bound overpass which drivers will take to Fairbanks once it’s complete. In order to reach the end of the first phase, the DOT will need to complete the paving operation that has already begun, but they’ll also have to move some barriers, install guard rails and reset the south bound lanes before the passage is ready for winter travel. “There will be two south bound lanes at grade level and then the north bound lanes will be over the new overpass,” said Perreault referring to the layout that is expected for drivers. That particular project should be wrapped up by the end of the week or the beginning of next week.
Further up the highway, a temporary closure is planned for the weekend, starting Friday, Oct. 20, to wrap up remaining work at the GARS Intersection of Gaffney Road, Airport Way, the Richardson Highway, and Steese Expressway. “We’re installing a permanent light pole there; a signal pole at the intersection where people may have seen one temporary wire holding up [lights] at the intersection,” Perreault said. The DOT also intends to use the closure to adjust traffic light timing and improve traffic flow. “That closure will start after the morning rush hour this Friday,” said Perreault. The closure will run from Oct. 20 to Oct. 22 if all goes to plan. While the lights may need adjustments in the future, this should be the finale touch to the GARS intersection.
Lastly, a bit more work will take place at the intersection of Bridgewater and Aurora Drives. Due to manufacturer delays this project won’t be finished until the next season, but the DOT plans to finish paving in areas with solid ground allowing MACS Transit busses access to the area. This will allow the buses to turn around and it’s certainly an end of season priority for the DOT as they want to ensure that all residents can move around town regardless of their location, access to vehicles or mobility issues, according to Perreault.
While paving is still being completed, the mixtures being used for the colder temperatures may be less permanent and repaving operations may need to take place in the near future.
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