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Fort Wainwright Main Gate to Reopen Sept. 23; Two Other Area Projects Near Completion

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Fort Wainwright/Facebook
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Fort Wainwright officials announced Wednesday they’ll reopen the Main Gate and a stretch of Gaffney Road between the gate and Airport Way. It’s been closed for more than three months to allow the contractor to widen the road and improve the Visitor Center parking lot.

Fort Wainwright’s Main Gate has been closed for more than three months to allow contractors to widen the road that leads to it. That's led to traffic congestion on Fairbanks's east side. But the work is nearing completion, and post officials plan to reopen the Main Gate and a portion of Gaffney Road in two weeks.

Fort Wainwright Spokesperson Eve Baker says post officials will reopen the Main Gate and Gaffney Road at a minute before midnight Sept. 23. She says the $2.5 millon project includes construction of an additional inbound lane that’ll improve safety and the flow of traffic around the gate, especially for commercial vehicles.

“We’re going to have an extra lane for commercial vehicles to come in,” she said, “because they have to be inspected when they come in the gate.”

The road-widening will solve traffic problems that were caused by a lack of space in the roadway that Baker says slowed commuters and made it hard for security guards to check out commercial vehicles coming onto the post.

“Under the old format of the gate,” she said in an interview Wednesday, “they were kind of parked sort of in the main lane of traffic, and it was dangerous for the drivers and for the security personnel and for other drivers, too.”

Baker says project contractor Silver Mountain Construction of Anchorage also fixed some traffic-flow problems in and around the Visitors Center.

“We’ve redone the Visitor Center’s parking lot to allow easier pull-in and more space, a better layout of spaces, so people aren’t accidentally backing in to each other.”

Once the work is done, the Main Gate will be open 24 /7. Baker says post officials will then close two other gates that were opened temporarily as alternate routes into and out of the installation. Those are the Lazelle Gate, east of the Johansen Expressway, and the Richardson Gate, off the Richardson Highway. And, the hours of operation will change for two other gates that will remain open.

“The hours for Trainor Gate are going to revert to the pre-closure hours, so open at 5:30 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.,” she said. “And Badger Gate will be open at 5 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m.”

Baker says once the Main Gate is reopened, commuters and other motorists traveling around the city’s east side and the Richardson Highway should notice less traffic congestion in those areas.

“And that’ll make local drivers a lot happier, I think,” she said. “And it’ll make it easier for people to get on and off base in the morning and in the afternoon.”

Meanwhile, work under way on another road project at the west end of Airport Way, on University Avenue, also is nearing completion.

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Caitlin Frye/DOTP&F
The new University Avenue bridge includes wider sidewalks outside of the guardrails.

“The contract completion date for the University (Avenue) bridge plus the University Avenue widening is October 31st,” said state Transportation Department spokesperson Caitlin Frye. “So, that’s when we expect the road and the bridge to open up.”

State Transportation Department spokesperson Caitlin Frye says workers have built sidewalks and a median on the new bridge over the Chena River. And she says crews are now laying down asphalt just north of the bridge before they pave the bridge deck itself.

Fairbanks-based Great Northwest is the general contractor for the approximately $40 million project. And Oregon-based Hamilton Construction is the subcontractor that built the bridge.

As for the other big bridge project in town, to replace the Wendell Street span, the completion date is up in the air right now, due to delays caused by COVID-19 supply-chain disruptions. She says the nearly $17 million project was scheduled to be completed around the end of October. And she says DOT officials will have a better estimate on that project timeframe in a couple of weeks.