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Meeting in North Pole tonight on new Richardson Highway overpass

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
State Department of Transportation officials plans to begin work in 2024 on an overpass, also called a grade separated interchange, at Richardson Highway at the 12-Mile Village intersection, milepost 351.

Structure would improve safety, traffic flow, DOT says

The state Department of Transportation will host an open house meeting tonight in North Pole to talk about an overpass the department plans to build on the Richardson Highway at the the 12-mile Village intersection.

Transportation Department officials say an overpass at the intersection of the Richardson Highway and a stretch of the Old Richardson at 12-mile Village is needed to reduce the number of wrecks that occur there, especially for eastbound drivers who want to exit on to the Old Rich.

“The current exit right there at 12 Mile requires you to take a sharp-right turn, and almost comes to a complete stop,” says DOT spokesperson Kaitlin Williams. “And it really interferes with the traffic flow in a high-speed, high-volume area. And it’s become really hazardous.”

Williams says the intersection also requires westbound drivers on the Richardson to cross two lanes of eastbound traffic to turn left on the Old Rich. She says those and other problems make the intersection two-and-a-half times more likely to have wrecks there than at other so-called “at-grade intersections” in the state.

“So, having an overpass there is going to be a lot safer,” she said Wednesday.

Williams says the project is estimated to cost $20 million dollars, 90 percent of which will be funded through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. The state will kick-in the remaining 10 percent. She says Transportation Department officials last talked with locals about the project four years ago, and they’re now ready to move ahead on it in 2024.

“So, we’re at the point now where the project’s design has been chosen,” she said, “and we’re holding the open house so that we can offer ourselves to everyone for any questions they may have about the project.”

The open house meeting will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hotel North Pole, on Santa Claus Lane just off the Richardson Highway overpass.

Tim Ellis has been working as a KUAC reporter/producer since 2010. He has more than 30 years experience in broadcast, print and online journalism.