The state Department of Transportation will close the Richardson Highway near Black Rapids for 12 hours Thursday evening as part of a project to replace the Ruby Creek bridge.
Transportation Department spokeswoman Caitlin Frye says construction of a bridge over Ruby Creek has been going on for several weeks now, as part of a $6 million project to replace the old smaller structure that was prone to being flooded by runoff from slopes just east of the roadway.
“In the past, the water has flooded up and over onto the bridge and onto the highway,” Frye said. “So we’re trying to avoid that in the future by addressing some of those concerns with this project.”
So far, the department has been able to keep traffic moving through the construction site around milepost 235, with pilots cars leading convoys slowly over a rough one-lane stretch. But Frye says engineers couldn’t figure out how to keep traffic moving safely through the area while crews remove an old culvert there. So she says the department will close the Richardson Highway overnight Thursday so crews can remove the pipe.
“The road will be completely closed on August 10th at 7 p.m. through the next morning at 7 a.m.,” she said, “so that means no cars will be getting through during that time.”
Frye says the new bridge is already up and was scheduled to be opened up to traffic over the weekend. She says that’ll enable the contractor, Fairbanks-based Great Northwest, to re-divert Ruby Creek into its original channel – and that in turn will allow the contractor to get to the old culvert.
“So we’re trying to get the word out to as many people as possible so that folks can make different plans and try to avoid the area as much as possible.”
Frye says the project should be completed by the end of the month.
Editor's note: More information about the Ruby Creek project and other road work throughout the state is available online at 511.alaska.gov.