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Story Last modified at 5:51 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DOT officials predict few delays ahead
Roadwork should cause minimal gridlock

For the Star

Despite several significant projects slated for the area, Eagle River, Chugiak and Birchwood residents should be largely spared the frustration of summer road construction this year, state and municipal transportation officials said.

The area's largest road construction project will be the state's Old Glenn Highway road widening, path improvement and bridge replacement project between South Birchwood Loop Road and Peters Creek. The road will be closed for approximately 75 days between Lace Road and Peters Creek Park so contractor Granite Construction can replace Peters Creek Bridge. The new bridge should be in place and ready for use in late July.

The project also includes roadwork between South Birchwood Loop and Ski Road. State project engineer Ted Meyers said drivers should expect flaggers, reduced speed limits, one-lane travel and pilot cars in some spots through that area until the end of July.

State Transportation spokesman Rick Feller said that's the largest project the state is working on in the area this summer.

"Overall, I think it's going to be a pretty light impact for the Chugiak-Eagle River area," Feller said.

Glenn Highway drivers will also see some delays related to a $12 million project to install lights from South Birchwood to Eklutna, Feller said, but the project shouldn't delay traffic much. Feller said he wasn't sure of the day-to-day construction schedule on that project but the state tries to schedule work during off-peak traffic times to minimize delays.

"You're not going to see a whole lot of traffic impact ... but you're certainly going to see a lot of traffic benefit after it's done," he said.

That project completes a years-long plan to increase driver safety and reduce moose-vehicle collisions along the Glenn Highway by adding high-powered overhead lights to illuminate the road and shoulders.

Mark Littlefield, general foreman for Eagle River Street Maintenance, said a drainage project in the Farm Avenue area will mean temporary detours for people using the bike and pedestrian path that parallels the Glenn Highway.

Littlefield said the project is a continuation of efforts to address drainage problems in the Breckenridge Drive and Farm Avenue areas. Farm Avenue funnels the water that comes down the hill from Skyline Drive, he said. The water flows into the Glenn Highway drainage system, as does water that drains from Breckenridge.

But increased development over time has led to more runoff and the collector pipes get overloaded, Littlefield said, which means the water backs up into houses.

Larger pipes, which are already in place, will address the issue, Littlefield said. The project this summer will tie them into the drainage system. It's expected to begin in June, he said, at an estimated cost of $350,000. Littlefield said there would be a few small projects to repair paved roads throughout Chugiak-Eagle River, but those projects will be small and quickly finished.

Just one other road construction project is slated for this summer, Littlefield said. Broadwater Drive will be realigned to address tight corners and correct sight distance problems.

Littlefield said the road – near North Eagle River Loop Road – was built around some rocks that cause visibility problems. The project will remove the rocks and round out some tight corners. He estimated that project, which will probably cost about $250,000, would take about three weeks and should begin soon.

Get updated road construction information at Alaska Navigator,

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.