By Jenny Neyman
Kalifornsky Beach Road from Bridge Access Road in Kenai to the Sterling Highway intersection in Soldotna will get an upgrade next summer. A project now in the final design phase by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities includes resurfacing the 6.2-mile stretch of road, making modifications at Bridge Access and Poppy Lane intersections, and adding traffic lights at Ciechanski Road and Gas Well Road.
“We’re planning to get this to construction for summer in 2016. I think the construction will only take one summer. There might be some minor cleanup items, maybe some seeding or some other things that they might need to come back and finish up next year, but it should be a one-season project,” said Cynthia Ferguson, project manager with ADOT.
Ferguson said they’re in the public comment phase, looking for people to share their experience on that road. The project team held on open house July 14 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
“We’re finishing up our design. We’re getting some great feedback at the meeting here, and we’ll go back and consider those comments and finalize our design. … So it’s basically anything folks have a concern about or they’d like to have looked at we’re interested in getting their information about that,” she said.
The two new traffic signals will be the biggest change to the road. There are many reasons why DOT might add signals to an intersection. At both Ciechanski and Gas Well, the issue is capacity, where the volume of turning traffic is so high it causes backups on side streets.
“We do look at all the intersections statewide and rank them for ones that need signals. So part of that ranking, these two, at Gas Well and Ciechanski, were near the top of that list, so that’s how they came to be incorporated in the project,” Ferguson said.
The modifications at the Bridge Access and Poppy Lane intersections include the latest and greatest in turning traffic management — the flashing yellow light. Research has shown that a flashing yellow, rather than a solid green, is a better reminder to left-turning traffic to yield to pedestrians and oncoming traffic. The intersections also will get Americans with Disability Act upgrades — changing the height of the pedestrian buttons and adding bright yellow textured strips to the pavement to warn those with low vision of the intersection.
The project cost is estimated at $12.5 million. Public comment is still being taken online. So far the team has heard things like areas of high commercial truck and school traffic. That causes DOT to make sure intersections have wide-enough turning radiuses, for example. Ferguson also has heard comments that amount to — thanks, but can you do more?
“And it’s also feedback for our planning folks to know what other projects they might want to be thinking about for the future,” she said. “We’ve heard from a lot of folks that they feel like this road should be five lanes in the near future. So that’s good feedback to provide that there’s a lot of interest out here to actually widen the road even further.”
For more information on the project and a link to submit comments, visit www.kbeachroad.com.