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Two Big Fairbanks-area Richardson Highway Projects to Wind Down Soon

Tim Ellis/KUAC

Motorists will finally get a break next month from the detours and congestion around a couple of major construction projects under way on the Richardson Highway south of Fairbanks. The work will wrap-up for the season on both the railroad-overpass and weigh-station projects – then ramp up again next year.

It’s been a long summer for commuters and other motorists who’ve had to wind their way through the detour-filled stretch of the Richardson Highway about 17 miles south of Fairbanks.

That’s where the state Department of Transportation is building a $11 million overpass to eliminate a railroad at-grade crossing. It’s part of a statewide program to reduce the number of those crossings built at road level to improve safety and reduce delays for motorists.

Department spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says all the lane restrictions and reduced speed limits there will go away in about a month.

“Drivers can expect to see that the southbound overpass section, which is almost completed, will be paved and then opened to traffic by the end of September,” she said.

Bailey says motorists on the two northbound lanes will continue to use the old roadway and at-grade crossing until next summer. That’s when HC Contractors will be back to complete what they started this year – except they’ll be working on the other side of the road, to enable construction of an overpass for the northbound lanes.

“Next year, we’ll come back and we will move all of the traffic onto those southbound lanes, similar to the way the traffic has been on the northbound this year,” she said. “So it’ll be single-lane on those two lanes, one going southbound, one going northbound.”

Bailey says the other Richardson Highway project that’s been slowing-down traffic also should soon be winding down for the season. But she says work will continue through the winter and into next year on the $10 million project to build two weigh stations on both north- and southbound lanes about six miles south of Fairbanks.

Bailey says the weigh stations will replace 30-year-old facilities that once were located there but torn down in 2002 to make way for the Badger Road overpass that was built in that area.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.