Construction Report: Big changes will impact McGrath Rd. residents through summer
This week, construction in Fairbanks will see a major project on McGrath Rd., as well as closures on the Johansen Expy. off-ramp to College Rd., and eastbound Davis Rd.
According to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT), improvements are set to take place on McGrath Rd. beginning Wednesday.
“There’s about 2,000 trips made by vehicles on average every day on that road,” says Caitlin Frye, Information Officer with DOT. “We haven’t made any major improvements to this road since the 1980’s.”
According to Frye, many structural and pavement issues which require DOT attention have cost both time and money. “This project is going to address those structural issues that are causing that road to constantly be in really bad shape, so it’s going to be less maintenance money in the long run and it’s going to be just a better driving experience for everybody who has to drive that road every day,” Frye says.
The area is mostly residential, and McGrath Rd. itself connects Farmer’s Loop to the Old Steese Highway. Frye says that residents should expect this to be much bigger than a simple repaving project.
“It’s going to take all summer to complete, they’re actually making improvements to the road and addressing all those structural issues under the road that are causing so many problems,” Frye says. “The contractor is going to be grinding up the pavement, excavating material, getting better material back in there, and then widening the road to create some shoulders.”
3-foot shoulders will be added from Farmer’s Loop to Willow Grouse Rd., from which point onwards a 1-foot shoulder will be added. Driving lanes will be widened, and drainage will be improved.
Finally, Frye says, McGrath Rd. currently forks and intersects with the Old Steese Highway in two places. After evaluation, DOT has decided that the northernmost fork will be closed for safety reasons, as well as to reduce the number of road-miles it must maintain.
These improvements will begin on Wednesday.
“We recognize this is going to be a big inconvenience for everybody who lives out there. That’s a lot of time added onto your commute. And we recognize that is so frustrating,” Frye says. “We want to make sure that everybody knows this is coming, and can plan a little bit of extra time into their commute.”
There will also be two weekend days at the end of June where McGrath Rd.’s intersection with Farmer’s Loop will be closed.
The off-ramp which takes drivers from the Johansen Expy. and onto College Rd. will also be closed beginning on Tuesday -- and barring a small window where it will be open over the weekend, will remain closed until the middle of next week. It will be closed again at the end of next week for nighttime repaving.
Construction on Davis Rd. is beginning to wind down; drivers should still expect the eastbound lane to remain closed as the contractor finishes work on the pavement through the end of the week. Afterwards, lanes will be open, but there be one last set of closures in the last week of June. After this, however, work on Davis Rd. will be completed for the construction season.