State DOT to begin work on first of 3 bridge projects later this year
Total of $292 million in federally funded projects will improve ‘critical highway infrastructure’ official says
The state Department of Transportation will begin work on a new bridge over the Johnson River south of Delta Junction later this year. It’s one of three Alaska Highway bridges DOT plans to build over the next few years to replace spans constructed during World War II.
All three bridges are located along a remote stretch of the Alaska Highway extending about 75 miles south of Delta Junction. DOT spokesperson John Perreault says they’ve been on the department’s wish list for years.
“We’re very excited for the infrastructure investment that the federal government is making,” he said, “particularly in bridges and other pieces of critical highway infrastructure.”
Money from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will cover the estimated $292 million cost of replacing the three bridges. The state will have to come up with a match somewhere between 9 and 20 percent, which Perreault says will come partly from grants and other federal highway programs. That will enable the projects to move forward, he said.
“It’s been difficult, because they’re such large bridges, but have relatively low daily traffic counts to justify the expense.”
But he says they’re among a group of old bridges in Alaska the state has prioritized replacing.
“It’s been an ongoing effort for years to replace every overhead-truss bridge that we have in this state,” he said, “because they are limiting, they’re vulnerable and they’re an outdated design technology.”
Perreault says work on the Johnson River bridge, the shortest of the three, will begin later this year and be completed by late 2026. That’s when construction of the Gerstle River bridge is scheduled to begin, followed by the Robertson River bridge in 2027. Perreault says the latter two projects are still in the planning and design phase, and DOT may change the construction schedules.
“Robertson may be moved ahead of Gerstle,” he added. “Those two are in process.”
DOT has already solicited public comments on the Johnson and Gerstle bridges, but it’s still asking for input on the Robertson project, through February 18th through the department’s online open house. The website provides information about the projects and a link to submit comments.