PALMER — What Valley residents may not have missed during the two weeks of the Alaska State Fair was the construction in downtown Palmer.
The Glenn Highway widening project from Mile 38 to 43 is back on track now that the fair is over, and creeping up on 50 percent completion. The reconstruction to reconfigure the existing two-lane highway onto four lanes of divided highway will ramp back up prior to construction halting for the winter. The Department of Transportation has planned closures beginning on Sept. 14 to Sept. 23 at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Cobb Street and Evergreen Avenue.
DOT Project Engineer Todd Smith said that the most frustrating construction activities have already passed. All of the storm drains and underground electrical wiring has been placed, allowing crews to continue work from downtown Palmer extending back out towards the fairgrounds. While some crews did minor cleanup work and topsoil spreading during the fair, Smith held true to his word and kept construction out of the way of fair traffic for the duration of the two weeks.
After countless meetings between Smith and ASF representatives prior to the fair, Smith received no communications during the fair, meaning he and his crews were out of the way of all the fun. The next major inconvenience will come at Palmer City Hall, as the entire Cobb Street and Evergreen Avenue intersection will be redone in the middle of September. DOT moved motorists over to the existing pavement on Aug. 4. Now, crews will resume tearing up the old and laying down new pavement on the east side of the median from Arctic Avenue headed south.
Smith is confident that with the progress made before the fair, he can have drivers on the bottom lift of four lanes of pavement from Mile 38 to 43 by the time snow flies and construction is stopped for the year. During the daylight, crews will continue grading and pave the roads at night, avoiding confrontation with the heaviest times for traffic. Smith was happy to give his crew two weeks to rest and relax during the fair.
“It was a needed break. Everybody’s been pushing hard and got a lot accomplished so far this season,” said Smith.
More information can be found at alaskanavigator.org