DOT&PF constructing Parks Highway detour at Big Lake Road

The work done this fall will help crews install a new bridge in the spring without disrupting traffic
The Department of Transportation is construction a detour on the Parks Highway at Big Lake Road.
The Department of Transportation is construction a detour on the Parks Highway at Big Lake Road.(Heather Hintze)
Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 2:58 PM AKDT
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BIG LAKE, Alaska (KTUU) - Drivers on the Parks Highway can expect a detour near the Big Lake Road turnoff this fall.

It’s part of a major construction project to widen the Parks Highway to a four-lane divided highway. Phase three of the project goes from Pittman Road to Big Lake Road.

There are currently two culverts in Little Meadow Creek. During the expansion, those will be removed and replaced with a bridge. The detour will move traffic south of the highway this fall so construction crews can get to work on the bridge in the spring.

“We have pile driving, concrete, a lot of work and when we remove the culverts the existing highway will not be passable while the bridge is under construction,” said Todd Smith, project engineer. “So we had no choice but to build a detour around it to allow the vehicles to free flow. And the bridge, it’s a three- or four-month process.”

An Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities report from 2018 shows about 12,000 vehicles travel that stretch of road every day.

That section was designated as a safety corridor in 2006 because of the high number of crashes. Smith said the department’s goal is to improve the road and make it safer for drivers.

“The divided highway, continuous illumination, also kind of consolidating direct access via frontage roads so we don’t have as many side friction access points directly to the highway. All of those features together will allow us to eliminate the safety corridor designation,” he said.

Workers are trying to move over as many utility poles as they can before the ground freezes.

The speed limit is reduced to 45 miles per hour for several miles through the construction zone. Drivers also need to keep an eye out for flaggers.

The detour work is expected to continue through October. Phase three of the expansion project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

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