Construction in Alaska's interior begins to gain momentum
The construction season in the interior is beginning to shift into high gear this week.
Motorists have been able to drive through the construction happening on Tanana Lp. outside the Patty Center over the last few weeks. Now, however, drivers trying to enter the University of Alaska Fairbanks from the University Ave./College Rd. intersection will find the road closed shortly after entering campus.
“The purpose of that project is to upgrade, in particular, that intersection with the stop sign,” says Caitlin Frye, Public Information Officer with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT), referring to the intersection of Chandalar Dr., Tanana Lp., and Alumni Dr.
“It’s a tough intersection,” Frye says, with a laugh. University regulars know that intersection affectionately by the name “dysfunction junction.”
Drainage in the area will also be improved, as will the sidewalks in order to be more ADA accessible.
Drivers can get to Tanana Lp. by taking Geist Rd. to Thompson Dr., or coming in from Sheep Creek Rd. and should follow detour signage to determine accessible areas.
Pedestrians and bicyclists in the area can refer to the following map for open sidewalks.
The closure is anticipated to last more than a month, but construction will be impacting the area throughout the entirety of the season.
Rewak Dr. continues to be closed as part of the University Ave. improvement project. As of Monday, however, drivers will also experience inner-lane closures on Airport Way around University Ave. as contractors demolish the median. Airport Way itself remains open, with only outer lanes accessible to drivers.
University Ave. southbound (in the direction of Fred Meyer West) is anticipated to close early next week, as well. “We will open up Rewak before we do that closure,” Frye says, so that drivers will be able to access the cluster of businesses in that area. However, Rewak will only be accessible from Washington Dr. off of Airport Way.
Frye says that the northbound leg of University Ave. is anticipated to close around the end of May. The project is also anticipated to span the entire construction season. Airport Way will remain open; however, drivers will not be able to make turns at its intersection with University Ave
The Richardson Highway continues to divert both directions of traffic to one side of the road as crews work on the other side.
However, targeted traffic enforcement by interior law enforcement officials has yielded a high number of speed-related traffic violations. Frye urges drivers to take care, as DOT workers are especially vulnerable when they work around moving vehicles.
“[The troopers] found a lot of people that were speeding through that construction zone,” Frye says. “It’s tough to explain just how risky that is. You getting to your appointment a few minutes faster is just not worth risking the lives of the other people that are out there; and, frankly, your own life.”