Close to 40 people heard about new safety options for the Sterling Highway at a public meeting last night. The Borough Assembly Chambers in Soldotna hosted the DOT as they presented five options to ease the fatality rate on the dangerous stretch, particularly between Fred Meyer and Mackey Lake Road.
Project Manager Cindy Ferguson said many of the alternatives involved dividing the highway…
Ferguson: “So that would provide two lanes of travel in each direction, and they would be separated, basically by a big, wide ditch similar to the Seward Highway in Anchorage. At the median openings that we talked about where there would be access for turning vehicles, we would have left-turn lanes and we would ideally like to space those about every half-mile to mile.”
Ferguson said the drawback with dividing the highway is that it reduces access left-turn access to homes and businesses on the highway.
The five alternatives included:
A: Four-lane highway, divided with depressed median
B-1: Four-lane, divided with two-way left-turn lane or raised median, urban
B-2: Four-lane, divided with two-way left-turn lane, rural
C: Two-lane, divided
D: Four-lane, divided with alternating passing lanes
E: Four-lane, divided with F-shaped barrier
Members of the public resisted the idea of separating the lanes with a concrete barrier, concerned that drivers would hit the barrier during blinding snow, and that moose would b e trapped on the roadway. Instead, they favored improved lighting along the highway.
DOT representatives said lighting would be difficult, due to a tight State maintenance budget which hasn’t increased in over 20 years.
With a growing traffic problem, 721 accidents were recorded on the Sterling highway between the Kenai Spur and Moose River Bridge between 2000-2010. Ferguson said she felt residents are eager to see something change, it’s just a matter of finding the best solution.
For more, visit the project online. The DOT is now reviewing comments and a preliminary decision document is expected by the middle of 2014.