Story last updated at 2:37 p.m. Thursday, April 18, 2002

East road project aims to ease worries
by Joel Gay
Staff Writer

The bulk of the East End Road reconstruction project will not start until the summer of 2003, and even then will keep traffic flowing both ways for most of the job, state planners said this week.

Representatives of the Department of Transportation were expected to be in Homer on Wednesday to answer questions and tell East End Road residents and drivers what to expect, said project manager Therese Stokes.

The project, which should cost upwards of $7 million, will maintain the road's existing configuration from Lake Street to Kachemak Drive, but will flatten hills to improve visibility, Stokes said. East End will remain a two-lane road, but will get 4-foot-wide shoulders on both sides. The road currently has "zero- to 2-foot" shoulders, Stokes said.

In addition, a 10-foot-wide bike path will be built on the north side. In places it will be separate from the road, and in places will adjoin the road, she said.

The project should go out to bid in May, and work could begin as early as July. Because of the late start, however, work this summer will be limited to utility relocation, pipe crossings, clearing and other preparations, Stokes said.

Most of the work will start in May of 2003 and continue through September or October of that year.

Because of the new bike trail, planners believe they can squeeze two-way traffic and keep it running for most of the project, Stokes said.

"We're going to try to maintain two-way traffic," she said. "We won't always be able to achieve it, but that's what we're shooting for."

Full road closures may be necessary at times, Stokes said. "We'll try to limit those to 12 hours, at night."

The project cannot be done at night, however, because most of it is in residential zones, she said.

East End business owner Mike Conley, of Pudgy's Meat and Groceries, said he appreciates the state's effort to keep the road open during construction because it should keep traffic running smoothly past his store rather than forcing cars to go around on Kachemak Drive.

"Once the project is through, it will be a real advantage to us," he said. "It's just that we'd like it done in such a manner that they recognize we're in business."