FAIRBANKS, Alaska The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has started phase 1 on a maintenance project resurfacing the Mitchell Expressway on Monday May 20, 2019. DOT and Public Facilities Northern Region Information Officer Caitlin Frye Spoke about the project.
“So traffic coming from Ester on the parks highway which turns into the Mitchell will have to exit at Geist, and they can take Geist to the Johansen and then Peger Road to Airport to access the Richardson Highway,” said Frye.
The two month-long closures will effect traffic for each direction of travel. Starting May 20th, the Mitchell Expressway will be closed to Richardson-bound traffic from Geist Road to the Richardson Highway interchange.
“Depending on where people are going in town we know that a lot of people that are using the Mitchell Expressway to get into Fairbanks are going to work or are going to places other than the Richardson Highway. So our official detour is Geist to Johansen, and then Peger to Airport,” she said.
She said traffic modeling showed the most difficult intersection during this closure is going to be the Geist Chena Pump intersection.
“So you will probably experience an increase in delay at that intersection," she explained. “So definitely be prepared for that. Give yourself a few more minutes to get to work in the morning,” she added.
She also said as the week goes on and traffic starts to stabilize, there will be signal engineers going out to the intersections to monitor intersections in town.
They are going to change the signal timing based on the new traffic patterns that we are seeing with the closure. So the first couple days as people are finding their routes you might see an increase in delays but we are going to try and mitigate that with changes in the signal timing as the week goes on,” she said.
The Mitchell Expressway hasn't had new asphalt since the expressway was built in pieces between the late 80's and mid-90’s.
"So it has been a long time and this pavement is at the end of its useful life. You can tell when you are driving down you see a lot of patches and cracked sealing, and a lot of spots where we have had to maintain the road to keep it in okay shape," said Frye.
In addition to resurfacing the road, DOT will also be doing maintenance on 9 bridges and replacing the current light fixtures with LED lights, replacing guard rails and updating curves to make them ADA compliant.
"We know that this is hard for people. All of our employees at DOT also have to drive though all of this construction so it's frustrating for us as well but the improvements that we are making to our roadway are going to improve safety, they are going to improve mobility in town and they are going to save us in long term maintenance costs."
Frye says the Department understands construction seasons have a huge impact on commuters, but all the workers really appreciate the community of Fairbanks having patience as they do these important projects.
“If you are on social media we really encourage you to follow the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Facebook Page. We have a lot of information about the project we are going to be posting videos and photos of the project as it goes on,” said Frye.
For a full list of project and more information about the Mitchell Resurfacing Project and other construction for the 2019 season visit http://dot.alaska.gov/nreg/construction/
Find updated traffic impacts on http://alaskanavigator.org/ for all of our construction projects across the state.
You can find information on 511.alaska.gov about traffic and road information