DOT presents Chena Pump roundabout at open house

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 11:16 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Alaska Dept. of Transportation (DOT) hosted an open house at Wood River Elementary School, giving the public an opportunity to learn more about a future project on Chena Pump Road.

While we’re many months away from seeing road construction start up once more, the DOT continues to engage the public about future developments.

Set for 2025, the DOT plans to build a roundabout at the intersection of Chena Pump, Chena Small Tracts and Old Chena Ridge Roads. “The purpose of this project is to improve safety at this intersection,” said David Jensen, and engineering manager for the DOT.

The project is part of the Highway Safety Improvement Program also known as HSIP. These projects are aimed at areas identified as having higher incident rates. The single lane roundabout is meant to address safety issues reported by residents that have been caused by increased congestion and higher speeds. “With increased traffic volume and people having to wait longer, there’s a higher likelihood that people are going to make a risky maneuver and that’s going to cause a crash,” said Jensen.

One of those crashes in 2021 causing devastating injury to involved parties.

Alaska State Trooper Brian Haley was also in attendance and spoke about the higher incident response on Chena Pump Road, saying the roundabout would likely reduce those rates.

While Chena Pump Road is a major travel corridor, the project should be relatively short and there are five possible strategies for the project. Any of the five options “should definitely be a one season project,” said Jensen. As to how much of the season it would take up depends on which of the five strategies is used and how many complications they run into.

According to Jensen, alternatives to a roundabout were considered but ultimately the roundabout was chosen. “In accordance with FHWA and Alaska DOT, we have the roundabouts first policy and so that’s been taken into account with this design decision to go with a roundabout.”

Many residents who came to the open house spoke in opposition to the current design plans citing congestion at the roundabout, issues for large trucks, speeding and impacts to businesses such as the Pump House Restaurant. They also claimed the project was unnecessary since accidents are not common in the area.

One benefit of the project that visitors did praise is the increase of visibility provided by an increase of street lights based on the proposed design.

Despite the opposition, this project is still slated to go through as federal funds have already been secured.