Story last updated at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2002

Phase 2 of East End Road project moving forward
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

On Tuesday, the surface of East End Road received freshly painted center lines.

Four or five years from now, if all goes according to the Alaska Department of Transportation's plan, roughly nine miles of the road between Kachemak Drive and McNeil Canyon Elementary School will get a whole new look from the easing of curves to a fresh new surface. In addition, much of that length will receive a separated multi-use pathway.

DOT literature on the project says it "will focus on improving sight distance at curves and hills and generally making the road easier to drive."

The project is the second phase of DOT's overhaul of East End Road.

The first phase, a nearly four-mile stretch from Lake Street to Kachemak Drive, is scheduled to enter its major construction stage in 2003. The Kachemak Drive-to-McNeil project is still in its preliminary planning stage, and right-of-way acquisition won't begin until after the final design is approved later this year.

A June 6 public input open house at Paul Banks Elementary School was the centerpiece to the first round of public comment. At the meeting, DOT presented preliminary concept drawings, environmental challenges and cost analysis projections for what will eventually be a two-year construction project. Those preliminary designs are under consideration in the development of a recommended alternative. The public is invited to submit comments on the preliminary design alternatives to DOT until July 8.

Several options are currently on the drawing board at ASCG Inc., the Anchorage engineering firm hired by the state to design the Homer-area road overhauls.

The areas of most concern for designers were the Fritz Creek and Hatfield Hill sections.

Fritz Creek presents a problem from an environmental standpoint not only because of the creek itself but because the road right of way cuts across a steep slope.

The Hatfield Hill area, a two-mile stretch of 7 to 10 percent grade leading up to McNeil Canyon Elementary School, presents a problem for the separated pathway. For most of the nine-mile project, ASCG has recommended a pair of alternatives for the path. Both are separated from the road, with one option calling for an 18-foot separation and the other an 8-foot gap.

Hatfield Hill exceeds the grade allowable for the state to consider a multi-use path to be wheelchair friendly, a requirement for all state-mandated roadside paths. Citing concerns over the grade and the number of side roads and driveways on the section, ASCG has recommended that Hatfield Hill receive a widened shoulder rather than a separated path.