- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Construction season approaching on most Alaska highways

By Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce

Alaska’s second season, that of road construction, is upon us.

The Parks Highway will get a major face-lift starting this year, with a dozen projects along the entirety of the Anchorage-Fairbanks link.

Work already contracted for the northern half of the highway will total about $80 million in 2014 alone, Department of Transportation Northern Region spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said. Not coincidentally, the overall region road construction budget is about $240 million in finalized contracts for 60 projects in 20 communities, or about $80 million more than 2013, according to Bailey.

“Almost all of the (Parks Highway) projects are safety improvements or upgrades to capacity - a lot of passing lanes,” she said.

Heading south on the Parks, the first large project travelers will encounter is the construction of three passing lanes this year from milepost 272 to milepost 265 between Nenana and Healy. A larger second stage of that work will build seven more passing lanes between miles 296 and 197 and is anticipated to run through September 2015. Both stages of work will include upgrades to grading and embankments along the corridor and the work is expected to total $30 million.

Drivers can expect delays of up to 50 minutes and pilot cars in these work zones, according to DOT.

Installation of $13 million worth of rumble strips and permanent road striping between milepost 263 and milepost 252 - completion of holdover work from last year - will take up to four weeks and should be done by the end of August.

The gamut of resurfacing, bridgework, adding and replacing culverts, and road widening will start as soon as weather permits between mileposts 252 and 239. Delays of up to 20 minutes and weight restrictions during bridgework can be expected in this stretch of work, which will also continue into 2015 and cost $32 million.

In all, more than 100 culverts will be replaced, repaired or cleaned in the 13-mile stretch.

At mile 194 south of Cantwell, three years of work on a railroad overpass and a new bridge across the Middle Fork of the Chulitna River will commence this spring. Again, traffic delays of 20 minutes can be expected.

Bailey said an exact price to the bridgework was unavailable as a contract had not been awarded, but the project was appropriated $20 million in the current state capital budget.

Back north in Fairbanks crews will be resurfacing two of the popular routes through the city. About three-quarters of Airport Way will be resurfaced at a cost of $5.4 million, Bailey said, with the remainder of the road being finished in 2015.

The 4.5-mile Johansen Expressway will get its first new pavement since it was built 20 years ago. That project will cost DOT $9.2 million.

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