FAIRBANKS — Just as interior Alaska drivers brace for months of snow and ice, the Alaska Department of Transportation is telling them to prepare for construction delays next summer.
Northern region director Steve Titus says four major projects will affect driving in Fairbanks next year and he’s trying to let people know seven months before the heavy equipment starts to roll, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
“It’s a big year,” Titus said. “What that translates into is delays.”
The Parks Highway, the primary route to Fairbanks from Anchorage, will see major renovations. At least six sections will be under construction as road builders add passing lanes along a 140-mile stretch south of Nenana.
A new overpass is scheduled in Broad Pass south of Cantwell. A 13-mile stretch between the entrance to Denali National Park and the road to Healy will be rebuilt with better drainage, embankment construction and resurfacing.
Titus said he’s only half-joking when he tells people they should drive to Anchorage by way of the Richardson and Glenn highways. That route is 80 miles longer, but the department wrapped up improvements on the Richardson this year and the spend limit is now 65 mph.
Drivers can also expect construction inside Fairbanks.
The entire Johansen Expressway, which runs east to west on the north side of the city, will be resurfaced.
Half of Airport Way, which runs parallel to the Johansen through the center of the city, also will get new asphalt. The east end, starting at the Steese Highway, is targeted for work in 2014. The project will be scheduled for evening hours to lessen interruption of traffic.
Contractors also will continue work on the $16.4 million Goldstream Road project, which affected drivers during the 2013 construction season.
The road meanders north and east of the city and is notorious for permafrost heaves and other rough patches. It’s in line for more than 20 culvert installations, lighting, widening and re-grading.
The road is being rebuilt on a layer of foam insulation to minimize frost heaves. That should help with future maintenance, Titus said.
It’s a coincidence that so much work will be performed next year, he said. Design work and funding dictated the timing.
“We never planned for them (to be) all together,” he said. “We’re going to be challenged, to be sure.”