Old Sterling Highway resurfacing scheduled for this season; New bridge next year

Jul 1, 2020

The Old Sterling Highway.
Credit ADOT

Work is underway on refurbishing the Old Sterling Highway south of Anchor Point, and it’s only the beginning of work that will eventually see a new, two-lane bridge crossing the Anchor River.
    DOT spokesperson Shannon McCarthy in Anchorage says the work will consist of refurbishing the surface and repair of the highway, as needed.
    “It's really straightforward as long as there aren't problem areas. And what I say by that is basically we'll grind up the asphalt and then much of it can be repurposed and reused in the new asphalt. But basically you grind it up, you don't want to get too far down because you want to maintain that structural core of the road, so you're really taking off the damaged pavement and then you're repaving,” McCarthy said. “If we do have soft spots, there's little thinning areas we can stop and do those dug-outs as needed. And that's just, you know, like I said, as needed. And that's usually when some water has gotten into the subsurface on, we can go ahead and fix that.”
    McCarthy says no closures are planned on the road during the project, though delays in both directions, with pilot cars, can be expected. The refinishing of the 8.7-mile road will be completed this work season at a cost of $4.7 million. Tutka LLC is the contractor.
    Meanwhile, McCarthy says bids for construction of a new bridge over the Anchor River just south of Anchor Point on the Old Sterling Highway will be announced in August. It replaces the bridge put up in 1942.
     “This is a very old bridge. It is well past its lifespan. The cost to repair it actually far exceeds the cost to just replace it. So we are planning to replace it. It's going to be cool because it's going to be a single span steel girder bridge, one of the longest in the state,” McCarthy said. “And that's great because it keeps all the construction out of the water. So we're not messing with the floodplain. We're not messing with the fish. We'll just create a really long, steel span. And I think it's better for everybody.”
    Part of that work will be to protect the road where it meets the bridge on its south end from seasonal flood waters.
    The bridge will be placed next to the existing bridge, upstream. It will have two 11-foot lanes as well as two six-foot shoulders, and will not have weight or height limits on vehicles using it as the current bridge does.
    Clearing work for the bridge approaches could begin later this year.