AASHTO Journal, 30 November 2012
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities reopened its Illinois Street and new Veterans’ Memorial Bridge in Fairbanks after completing reconstruction aimed at increasing safety and economic development earlier this month. The project opened the roadway 10 full months ahead of schedule.
After almost 30 years of planning, ADOT&PF began construction on the $23.6 million Illinois Street in April. Crash rates were three times higher here than expected, and those crashes often involved pedestrians and bicyclists due to confusing lane configurations and incomplete and narrow sidewalks.
Also factored into the reconstruction was future business development in downtown Fairbanks. Improving the roadway encourages additional travel through the area for drivers and pedestrians and supports long-term growth for downtown redevelopment.
Once construction was underway, businesses in the project area asked ADOT&PF to minimize traffic impacts. ADOT&PF worked with H.C. Contractors to accelerate the project. In total, ADOT&PF paid an additional $1.1 million to extend work later into the construction season and to speed up the manufacturing and delivery of some materials. By doing so, construction of a replacement bridge (part of the overall project) started in the summer of 2012 instead of 2013. Additional improvements will be made to the project in 2013, but will result in minimal traffic impacts to the area.
The reopening of the roadway was celebrated Nov. 12, when ADOT&PF, elected officials, and community members joined to open the corridor, despite temperatures hovering around zero degrees. A procession of antique cars carrying Fairbanks veterans drove across the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, driving through a big red ribbon to signal the official opening. Photos of the event can be found at bit.ly/ADOTPFphotos.