Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 1:54 PM on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Six peninsula projects on state transportation list

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Six projects for the southern Kenai Peninsula are on the draft 2012-2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, list currently being reviewed by the state. The opportunity for public comment has ended. The final version of the list is expected in about a month, according to Joselyn Biloon, planner for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

The projects include:

• Ninilchik River bridge replacement: Replacing the bridge leading to Ninilchik Village with a two-lane bridge and reconstructing approaches to the bridge. The work is spread between fiscal year 2012 and 2015. Project amount: $2.9 million.

• East End Road rehabilitation from mile 3.7 to mile 12.2: Beginning where Phase 1 improvements near Kachemak Drive ended to approximately Waterman Road, mile 5.5, this project includes rehabilitation of the roadway and provision of pedestrian facilities, as well as addressing safety concerns. Additional work may be done in the future depending on available funds. The project is slated for fiscal year 2012. Project amount: $8.1 million.

• Sterling Highway mile 157 to mile 169 rehabilitation: Between Anchor Point and Baycrest Hill, this project will provide passing lanes, widen and realign as needed for safety and capacity, and resurfacing of pavement. The work is spread between fiscal year 2012 and 2015. Project amount: $29.5 million.

• Pioneer Avenue rehabilitation: This project includes resurfacing of approximately one mile, from its intersection with Lake Street and East End Road. It may include a bike lane; drainage; lighting; curb, gutter and sidewalk construction; and landscaping. All the work will be done in the existing right of way. The project is scheduled for fiscal years 2013-2015. Project amount: $679,000.

• Lake Street rehabilitation: Located between the Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue, this project calls for Lake Street to be repaved, have sidewalks constructed on both sides and drainage improvements. Work is scheduled between fiscal years 2012 and 2015. Project cost: $2.1 million.

• Sterling Highway erosion response: Identification and implementation for solution to bluff erosion are the subject of this project that focuses specifically on the area between on the Sterling Highway, mile 153-154, north of Anchor Point. This is a first effort at addressing the area and includes a study to evaluate alternatives and identify costs and is set for fiscal year 2013. Project amount: $1.5 million.

Biloon said it is not uncommon for projects to slip from one year to the next for a number of reasons.

"Sometimes we don't get as far as we hoped to get. Sometimes it's drainage issues, eagle nests, things you don't know until you get on the ground. Projects may take longer to design or there are right of way issues," she said. "This is the most optimistic schedule, but not all schedules are delivered on time."

Bridge projects, like the one in Ninilchik, can be particularly problematic.

"A lot of bridges in this state are old, and through the federal funding process, we don't have enough money to do everything," said Biloon. "We fix the worst first."

At least every three years, the department develops a STIP list to provide a schedule of expenditures for surface transportation projects, including roads, ferries and trails. The list is designed as a four-year plan, offering a snapshot of expected projects, their schedules and fund sources.

Once the list is finalized, the next step is for the Legislature to authorize the department to spend federal dollars on projects identifies.

"We don't get funding from the state, but we get authorization to spend the funding for what's on the STIP," said Biloon. "Anytime the department spends federal funds, it has to be authorized by the Legislature to do that."

More information and updates on the STIP can be found online atwww.dot.state.ak.us/stwdping/cip/stip/.