Roundabouts at Steese and Chena Hot Springs Road?

Update Jan. 31, 2016

Over 200 people attended the DOT meeting Jan. 27, 2016, most offering less expensive suggestions that were discarded by DOT. You can read further reports of the meeting from news sources as well as the DOT Facebook page on the project. The official project page is http://dot.alaska.gov/nreg/steese-chsr/ Written comments (the only ones that count apparently) are being officially accepted to March 1, 2016 – email carl.heim@alaska.gov


Update Jan. 25, 2016

The cost of this project has swelled from $2.3 million to $4 million, with $650,000 apparently coming from state funding (but DOT probably has some slush funds from prior projects). A public meeting is planned at Weller School for Wed. Jan. 27, 2015 starting at 6:30 pm..


Originally posted July 28, 2016

The Alaska Dept. of Transportation is proposing to build two one-lane roundabouts at Steese and Chena Hot Springs Road in 2016, using $2.9 million of federal safety funds. They held a lightly attended informational session July 21 at Noel Wien Library. It seems that the word didn’t get out. It might have been effective to put a notice AT the intersection. Deadline for response is August 1. You can download the presentation at http://bit.ly/chsr-roundabout

Reading the presentation (rather sparse in numbers), we were told there were 600 rush hour cars 500 turning right (no stop required) and 100 turning left to head toward the Old Steese. Of 14 accidents from 2005-2009, there were 3 accidents from lefts off of the Steese and 6 from lefts onto the Steese. No fatalities, most with property damage only. The assertion is that the accidents have come from the lack of visibility due to the bridge underpass being higher that the approach from the Old Steese.

This project would reduce the traffic flow to one lane increasing the chance of conflict, cause all traffic to have to use more fuel to go around where there is a straight shot now, add to the challenges of maintenance of two close roundabouts and increase the chances of ice and visibility causing issues such as entering into the roundabout from the Old Steese due to an increase in grade of the western roundabout.

DOT’s option was either to build this project or do nothing. As one who has lived out there for decades, I think this project is overkill and would urge DOT to look at a few more efficient and effective safety improvements. Of little cost, let’s see if the accident goes down in the next few years.

    1. For increased visibility to the west, put a convex mirror under the bridge to help left turners from southbound exit view oncoming traffic.
    2. Have the eastbound traffic either going under the bridge or turning right onto the Steese Southbound on-ramp have the right of way vs those turning left onto that same ramp.
    3. Have that Southbound on-ramp be banked for those turning left to not slide into the snowbank in winter.
    4. Extend the left turn lane to Steese Southbound, allowing through traffic their own lane.

I have no problems with roundabouts in appropriate locations, however this proposed intersection isn’t one of them. It also seems a waste of taxpaper money. Contact DOT project manager carl.heim@alaska.gov or 451-5359.

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