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State’s latest transportation plan shows several Interior projects in outlying areas

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Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
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2013 is shaping up to be a busy year for the transportation-construction industry in the Interior.

The state has scheduled several major road projects for this year in the region, including replacement of a bridge on the Richardson Highway, and design work for several bigger bridge-replacement projects set to begin over the next couple of years.

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities last week released a new version of the document that some call a “wish list” of high-priority projects that the department is planning.
The revised version of the State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, plan that was released Friday contains dozens of wished-for projects, but only some of those wishes will come true, because only some projects are funded.
State Transportation Planner Ethan Birkholz says the projects in the plan that did get funded are the highest of high-priority projects that are essential to improve safety and enable roadways to handle bigger truckloads needed to promote resource development.
“There are quite a number of large projects in (fiscal years)’13 and ’14,” he said.
Birkholz is the chief planner for the transportation department’s Northern Region office in Fairbanks. He says some road work will be going on in Fairbanks, like the big Illinois Street project, but most the action this year will take place in outlying areas around the Interior.
“You won’t see a lot of projects in Fairbanks bid this summer, because of the Illinois project just bid,” Birkholz said. “But you’ll see a lot in 2014.”
The bigger projects that are scheduled to begin this year include a $21 million effort to rebuild a portion of Goldstream Road, mainly around the intersection with the Steese Highway.
Also this year, work will continue on a $26.5 million reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch of the Parks Highway around Healy. The project, which includes passing lanes, will continue to the south of the town in 2014.
Construction of a road to Tanana is set to begin this year – a $10 million, 54-mile roadway from the Elliott Highway to the village on the Yukon River.
Work will continue on a $5.3 million project to begin rebuilding portions of the Taylor Highway just east of Tok that were hammered by flooding in recent years.
Also this summer, construction will begin on a $6 million bridge over Phelan Creek, on the Richardson Highway north of Black Rapids.
The STIP plan also calls for design work to begin on several other bridges around the Interior, setting the stage for an even busier road-construction season in 2014.