Sterling Highway bypass project one step closer to construction

Published: Mar. 7, 2018 at 5:57 PM AKST
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The Sterling Highway bypass around Cooper Landing is one step closer to happening, after the Federal Highway Administration approved the final Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says the environmental impact process for the highway has taken longer than any other in the Administration's history.

The project, between mileposts 45 and 60, would go around Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula, where the highway doesn't meet modern highway designs and can't adequately serve the volume of traffic that travels on it.

The highway also runs alongside Kenai Lake and River, through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, near the Resurrection Pass trail, and sits in steep terrain, among other challenges.

In July of 2017, Alaska's congressional delegation and Gov. Walker asked the U.S. Departments of Interior, Transportation and Agriculture to work together to solve the conflicts between their conflicting priorities to get the project moving.

Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, congratulated Alaska's delegation on getting the project moving, saying the project "remains a good example of the need to streamline the environmental review process so projects like this one can begin more quickly."

There's now a public comment period on the preferred

, that lasts through April 16, 2018.