Among the massive road projects kicking off this year is an upgrade to a section of the Seward Highway running through Anchorage.
Orange detour signs are already diverting some traffic in the area, but bigger changes are coming, and there will be detours between Dimond Boulevard and Dowling Road all summer.
Heavy equipment operators were busy Thursday doing prep work, as state transportation project engineer Chong Kim explained why more lanes are needed on the highway.
“The population has grown tremendously over the years,” Kim said. “And we’ve used our facilities that are old, and not outdated, but they’re old, and the capacity has changed.”
First, crews are revamping Homer and Brayton Drives, frontage roads that run parallel to the highway. When that is completed sometime in May, highway traffic will be diverted and slowed to 45 mph.
By the summer of 2019, the highway have extra lanes and feature a new bridge that will allow for a better east-to-west connection.
That’s still a long ways off for drivers, business owners and people living in the area, but Kim said they are trying to account for their needs.
“We spent a lot of time on detour configuration. So, as far as I’m concerned, the average driver, they will not feel the move, of the diversion,” Kim said.
Kim said the project is on an “aggressive schedule.” Two crews are working nonstop: one during the day, one at night.
For now, the project is on track.
Updates can be found online at alaskanavigator.org.