PALMER — Mat-Su Valley residents driving along the Palmer-Wasilla Highway have been plagued by high amounts of traffic for years. The current construction of the center left turn-only lane widening project began paving on Monday, June 29 and the Alaska Department of Transportation hopes to have the project complete by the end of the fall this year.
“Our current hope is to finish all of it this year but that is subject to change based upon weather and other conditions, but they are currently on schedule to complete the vast majority of the work this year,” said Project Engineer Jeanette Clugston. “They have been pushing hard working both day shift and night shift to try and compress the schedule down in order to cut down on the inconvenience to the public.”
The $15 million dollar project is currently underway in Phase 1 working on installing grading, drainage, paving, a pathway and striping the new pavement. Clugston said that the borrow haul in and excavation are finished on Phase 1 from Hurley Circle to Seward Meridian Parkway and slopes have had topsoil and grass seed applied. Even before Phase 1 is complete, work is beginning on Phase 2 from Seward Meridian Parkway to Trunk Road to begin excavation and borrow haul in.
“Anywhere in the active work sections I would strongly recommend that they keep their eyes peeled and the active work sections at this point in time would be from Hurley Circle to Trunk Road,” said Clugston. “They are expecting traffic counts to go up. Right now Seward-Meridian Parkway to Hurley Circle they’ve got 15,867 as of 2016 counts and they’re projecting 18,100 in say 2026, so the numbers are subject to change based on what happens in the state where people move what they’re doing, but they fully expect that the numbers will increase over time.”
Average Daily Traffic from 49th State Street to Trunk Road and also Hemmer Road to 49th State Street are at 14,500, while Trunk Road to Hyer Road has an ADT of under 12,000.
“By including a center left turn lane in there, that allows people to move into that center area and wait for a chance to cross over which would allow the traffic behind them to continue moving through, so safety is the biggest improvement that you’re going to see out here. It should shut down a lot of the accidents that were happening,” said Clugston.
For more information on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway project, visit https://www.alaskanavigator.org/projects/4-hsip-palmer-wasilla-highway-center-left-turn-lane-widening.