The Unofficial Chena Hot Springs Road Upgrade Homepage


The Unofficial Chena Hot Springs Road Upgrade Homepage
A community service provided by Gary Newman



This was the webpage created to inform folks about the major rebuilding of the Chena Hot Springs Road, which took place from 1996-1998. It remains posted on the web to demonstrate a model for communicating to residents on future road construction projects. Some of the links may no longer be active






Why this page?


In order to expedite information on the road reconstruction of Chena Hot Springs Road for users and residents, I am providing this page. As a former member of the FNSB Planning Commission that was responsible for approving the location of the road reconstruction many years ago, and as a user/resident who participated in public hearings on the project design, I have had a special interest in this project. Like other users of this road, I have questions and complaints. Please don’t complain to me though, as I have no power or authority. The information contained in this page is information I have obtained from various sources, particularly Exclusive Landscaping and the State of Alaska DOT/PF, and is without warranty of any kind.


Who is in charge?


The project is a roughly $13 million dollar project designed by and overseen by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The project was designed under contract to DOT/PF by R & M Engineering (452-1655), lead designer is Jim Wellman. The Project Manager on site is Rod Anderson and can be reached on site at (907) 488-3915 or via email at: rod_anderson@dot.state.ak.us.
The main contractor for the project is Exclusive Landscaping and Paving, Inc., a Fairbanks contractor located at 1570 Richardson Hwy., (907) 488-8833 / fax 488-8999.
There are a number of subcontractors, who work for Exclusive Landscaping:

  • Arctic Surveys aka Stutzmann Engineering – surveying
  • Arctic Striping – traffic control
  • T & M Construction – flagging
  • Grasle – electrical
  • Royal Contractors – hauling
  • Diamond Fence – fencing, (perhaps guard rails?)



What is this project going to do?




This project will be doing a number of things:

  • The Chena Hot Springs Road is being re-built, as it is sad need of it. It was last re-built in 1978.
  • Chena Hot Springs Road will be expanded to a 4 lane road from the Old Steese Highway to Juniper Drive, just beyond Steele Creek Road
  • Chena Hot Springs Road will be re-built into a wide shouldered two lane road from Juniper Drive to Nordale Road.
  • Generally, the hills will be shaved down and the valleys filled up.
  • Some driveway and road access to Chena Hot Springs Road will be diverted or eliminated. Others will be improved. More on that under details. There will be an established bike/multipurpose use trail separate from the road along the entire length of the project on Chena Hot Springs Road. Wide shoulders will be contructed on the main Chena Hot Springs Road allowing for commuter cyclists to more safely cycle to and from town. Some major intersections will be illuminated. There will be left turn pockets established for some of the access roads.

Construction by Sam Harrel - Newsminer 28k

            
Above is a dramatic photo of Phase II, taken by Sam Harrel Fairbanks Daily News Miner
Caveat: this isn’t a great scan, the original printed in the May 20, 1998 Newsminer was much better.



General Information


DOT/PF encourages you to visit their project office, open between the hours of 8 am – 5:30 pm, or call them at 488-3915.
They have copies of the contract and plans at the project office
(located on the north side of Chena Hot Springs Road at 5 mile, just past
Rifle Road) and at DOT/PF offices on Peger Road. According to DOT/PF policy,
if you wanted your own copy of the plans, there is a copying charge of one dollar
per plan sheet (111 sheets) with a copying charge for the contract pages (about
250 pages) are 25 cents a sheet They do have several sets available at the
project office, so they might let you borrow one, as it is a bit much to read in
one short sitting and prohibitively expensive to purchase by the page. DOT/PF
has a brief web page on this project at: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/external/state_wide/dnc/chena_hot.html.



Schedule of Construction

The project is being constructed in two phases:

  • Phase I is construction of the four lane road from the Steese Expressway to
    Steele Creek Road at 4 mile. WThat which was torn up for construction was paved by October, 1997. Philip Anderson of Exclusive Landscaping said they had hoped to be done sooner, but were put nearly a month behind schedule due to the unexpected excavation of the black muck hole just east of Bennett Road in late June/early July.

  • Follow-up completion still pending as of April 1998 is signage, lighting, the bike path and slope work. This work will be folded into Phase II detailed below. Also still pending is DOT direction on what to do about the unstable base just east of Bennett Road where all the dips are. See Latest News.

  • Phase II is the two lane rebuilding of Chena Hot Springs Road between
    Steele Creek Road and Nordale Road (technically to Risse Road) and is scheduled
    to be started and completed during the summer of 1998. Expect a LOT of dirt to come off the 5.5 mile hilltop and be filled in the valleys at Steele Creek and Nordale Road! Exclusive Landscaping got started the the week of April 13, 1998. Here is the basic schedule as provided to me by Dan Anderson of Exclusive Landscaping April 10, 1998.



    • April 14, 1998 – surveyors begin
    • April 14, 1998 – brushing begins
    • April 20, 1998 – grubbing begins
    • April 27, 1998 – scrapers (heavy equipment) begin moving dirt
    • June 1, 1998 – scrapers done moving dirt and gravel hauling begins
    • July 1, 1998 – gravel hauling complete, begin grading in preparation for paving
    • August 1, 1998 – paving done
    • September 1, 1998 – project done, including signage, striping, etc.

    • Note that this was a spring 98 estimate – not obviously on schedule



Traffic during Construction


  • DOT/PF says to expect the pilot car to be in operation Monday through Friday from 8 am and Saturday beginning at 7 am. Usually the contractor stops work at 5:30. The pilot car stays running only as long as it takes the contractor to prepare the road for evening traffic.

    Latest News

  • Oct. 16, 1998 – Info from DOT Project Assistant Madrilena Bradley.

      Near the completion of each project, various departments go through and review the work. The departments usually included representatives from Maintenance, Design, Traffic and Environmental. Their comments, along with the remarks of the Project Engineer make up a final ‘to do’ list that is discussed with the contractor. Part of the discussion will include what work, if any, must be completed this year; what work if any, the contractor will complete next year, and what work the State will finish. This is the process that the project is currently undergoing.

  • Oct. 3, 1998 – Info from DOT Project Assistant Madrilena Bradley.

    • The contractor should have all paving and traffic markings completed by Monday 10/05. Only one standard sign remains to be installed and the temporary traffic control devices are being removed.

    • A small amount of the multiple use trail remains to be surfaced and work continues on the Nordale Road electrical installation.

    • Contractor activity should be at a minimum by the end of this week. Some slope preparation and seeding work will be completed next spring.

  • Sept. 29, 1998 – Info from DOT Project Assistant Madrilena Bradley.

    • The completed light installations have been activated. The lights at Nordale Road are still being worked on, and the lights that will be installed under the Steese overpass bridge have not yet arrived from the manufacturer. They will be installed when they arrive, but that might not be until late November.

    • The work remaining on the multiple use trail includes about one mile of surface material to be laid.

    • State maintenance will not be responsible for Chena Hot Springs Road until the project has been accepted. If any work remains to be completed next Spring, for instance seeding, it may be possible for the State to do a partial acceptance. In that case the State maintenance crew will be responsible for road work, including snow removal and any needed patching this winter.

  • Sept. 19, 1998 – Info from DOT Project Assistant Madrilena Bradley.

    • As of Saturday 09/19, the majority of the mainline has been paved. The contractor will spend next week paving the gores and the road widenings near Nordale Road. The work should begin on paving approaches after those items have been completed.

    • n other work; the haul will continue to the multiple use trail and the electricians will be installing electrical loops.

    • There is at this time no sign installation planned and permanent pavement markings will not be done the week of September 21-26.

  • Sept. 15, 1998 – Things are getting closer and closer to seeming more complete. Paving now starting this Thursday. One of the road crew commented how nice it will be that we residents will then be able to drive faster than we already do on the gravel road (:-). He notices some mailboxes that got clipped along the road that seemed like the car that got them must have been airborne. I told him the secret of getting past all the old dips and ruts was to drive fast enough to fly over them.


    When the report below talks about “approaches”, they mean the road and driveways that access off of the main road. It has been almost comical watching the big belly dumps head off to drop loads on the multi-use trail. I saw some dozers having to push and pull them through a couple of dicey sections. Still it seems like some work will be on-going into October.

  • Sept. 15, 1998 – Info from DOT Project Assistant Madrilena Bradley and confirmed on the road.

    • Paving is now planned for Thursday 09/17, and they expect the mainline to
      be done in 3 to 5 days. Wednesday, they will be tight blading the grade and
      a decision will be made at that time about application of prime under the
      asphalt. The contractor will then fall back and complete the approaches.

    • The electricians will be installing 2 light poles today down near Bridge
      Street. The flashing light near the intersection of the Old Steese and CHSR
      will be removed and a light pole installed near that location. There is
      another light pole scheduled to be installed near the expressway within
      the next week.

  • Sept. 10, 1998 – Info from the DOT webpage hasn’t been updated on line due to staff shortages.

    • At this point, the main effort will be in grade preparation for paving. The contractor is estimating the paving operation will begin Wednesday 09/16. If things go as planned, the mainline paving will be completed in about 3 days. It will take an additional 4 to 5 days for the crew to go back and pave the approaches. The other work planned this week includes continued electrical installation and laying surface course on the multiple use trail.
  • Sept. 4, 1998

    • Rumour yesterday was they would start paving the main road on Thurs. Sept. 10, lasting about 4 days. Now I hear it has been postponed until Tues. Sept. 15. Oh well.

    • The job will be off from Sat.- Mon. for the Labor Day weekend.


    Old News


    To reduce the size of the webpage and increase loading speed, “Old News” has been moved to:



    Common questions

    Questions on this project in 1998 should be addressed to the project manager Rod Anderson at: rod_anderson@dot.state.ak.us or Madrilena Bradley, Project Assistant.

      I asked of Ron Tanner, DOT/PF Design Engineer, ron_tanner@dot.state.ak.us:

      • Looking at the lines painted last fall at the Steese Exressway/CHSR intersection, it seems as if there is a more efficient way to handle traffic, particularly heading west. If it was not a merge left just east of Rainbow, but left lane for left turn onto the Steese Expwy heading south, and right lane going straight or right north onto the Steese Expwy N., it might work better. Signage for left and straight could be posted on the bridge for those driving East on CHSR.


      And Colleen Ackiss, DOT/PF Traffic Engineer, colleen_ackiss@dot.state.ak.us responded:


      • Thank you for expressing your concern regarding the intersection at CHSR and Steese Expressway. As you noted the two west bound lanes of CHSR traffic must merge into one lane prior to the interchange and then are divided into two lanes – a left (to the Steese Expressway) and a through (to Old Steese). The reason why the two lanes were not carried through this area and the inside lane changed midway to a left turn lane was for safety.


        There are inherent problems on higher speed rural roadways when a through lane abruptly changes into a turn lane. There would also be a high potential for a vehicle to mistakenly turn up the Steese Expressway off ramp on the east side of the bridge if an extended left turn lane existed. For driver safety, the left turn lane was designed and constructed such that the beginning is to the west of the off ramp thereby eliminating the potential of wrong way entry onto the ramp and subsequent head-on accidents.



    Complaints or Compliments


    • You can complain to the flaggers, but they can only pass comments on.
      Be nice to them. Their basic concern is handling traffic outside on all sorts
      of good or bad weather. Envy them their sun-tans, but not the dust-burns and no on-site showers (:o)



    Please address any complaints to the DOT/PF project manager Rod Anderson
    via email , the project office at 488-3915, or direct to Exclusive Landscaping at 488-8833.



    Detailed Project Information

    Caveat

    The information contained in this page is information I have obtained from various sources, particularly DOT/PF. It is presented here without warranty of any kind. See
    here to get the official word on project information.





    Road Width

    With the exception of the Old Steese to the east end of the New Steese Expressway, this is the general road design widths:

    • The four lane part of the road is to be two 12′ lanes on either side, with an 8′ paved shoulder and a 4′ tapered gravel shoulder on either side.
    • The two lane part of the road is to be one 12′ lane on either side, with an 8′ paved shoulder and a 4′ tapered gravel shoulder on either side.



    Access Changes

    • Access to and from the Steese Expressway will be at a slightly different angle to hopefully improve merging. An island will be placed at the north off-ramp from the Steese Expressway onto Chena Hot Springs Road to divert traffic left and right.
    • Old Chena Hot Springs Road access adjacent to the Steese Expressway off-ramp will be blocked, following removal of the recently constructed detour. In its place, “Bridge Street” will be connected between the New and Old Chena Hot Springs Road at the first curve. You can see the cleared area cut in the hill.
    • Bias Drive will be diverted to connect to the Old Chena Hot Springs Road access just before Weller Hill.
    • I think it unfortunate that DOT/PF was not able to merge the Hillcrest and Golden Birch roads to have only one access onto Chena Hot Springs Road.
    • Wigwam is being rerouted the same as Bias Drive onto an extension of Old Chena Hot Springs Road.
    • As mentioned elsewhere, Elementary Drive is being reconstructed to accomodate a grade change.
    • Gettinger’s hayfield access roads on either side are moved slightly west from the existing access.
    • Several driveways between Wayne Williams Lane and Love Road are re-routed to access onto Yoder Drive instead of Chena Hot Springs Road.
    • Haida Lane and Eberhart Road are re-aligned where they connect to Chena Hot Springs Road due to grade changes.
    • The driveway across from Rex Lane is being re-aligned where it connects to Chena Hot Springs Road due to grade changes.
    • Several driveways between Herning Road and the top of the hill heading toward Nordale Road are also being re-aligned where they connect to Chena Hot Springs Road due to grade changes.



    Left and Right Turn Lanes

    Common highway planning in Fairbanks seems to resist right turn lanes. There are some turnouts provided for mailboxes. However, there are a number of left turn pockets designed into the project. The directions indicated below are the direction of travel before the turn is made.

    • Under the Steese Expressway bridge, both east and west bound
    • Rainbow Drive into Rainbow Valley Trailer Court westbound
    • Bridge Street westbound
    • Kasekek Road eastbound
    • Old Chena Hot Springs Road westbound
    • Elementary Drive eastbound
    • Steele Creek Road eastbound
    • Juniper Drive eastbound
    • Love Road westbound
    • Esro Road eastbound
    • Herning Road westbound
    • Amanita Drive eastbound
    • Up the hill westbound from Nordale toward Amanita has a passing lane
    • Nordale Road westbound
    • Nordale Road eastbound approach becomes a non-passing two lane road



    Illumination

    There will be increased lighting at the Steese Expressway bridge as well as at some of the intersections.

    • Old Steese Highway, then along Chena Hot Springs Road relatively continuous until Bridge Street
    • Kasekek Road eastbound
    • Old Chena Hot Springs Road westbound
    • Weller hill on either side of Elementary Drive
    • The intersection of the multi-purpose path/trail with Elementary Drive
    • Bennett Road – 2 light poles on either side of the road
    • Steele Creek Road, Juniper Drive until the road becomes two lane has 10 light poles. I guess it will be well illuminated.
    • Esro Road – 2 light poles on either side of the road
    • Herning Road, Amanita Drive until the start of the passing lane mentioned above is continuously illuminated.
    • Nordale Road from the start of the non-passing two lane to just east of Nordale Road



    Trail Details

    The challenges I recall from the Planning Commission discussion was a basic difference in use between the recreational trail users (bicycles, joggers, horse riders primarily) and the commuting cyclists. The solution DOT/PF and R&M Engineering came up with was to provide a wide shoulder along either side of the paved road for the commuting cyclists and a separated gravel multi-purpose trail/bike path for everyone else.

    Many thought it would be nice for recreational bike users to have a paved path, but this was not to be, probably due to maintenance expense AND construction cost. Instead, it is to be constructed of 12″ of type D material and a 4″ surface course of crushed aggregate (gravel).


    There was also substantive discussion on which side to locate the trail/path on. For reasons of right-of-way (near as I can surmise), most of the trail/path is on the south side of Chena Hot Springs Road, crossing Chena Hot Springs Road at Bennett Road until it stops at Curry’s Corner. This links it up with the trail/path at Nordale Road, but creates what is, in the mind of many, a dangerous crossing at Bennett Road. We’ll see how many injuries or deaths occur before the designers and DOT/PF will consider better solutions. Of all the design decisions made, this one is the most disturbing to me. There were ideas from the public that were discarded, including running a culvert/underpass under the road, admittedly a tough job, considering the size of the culvert required for horses and in the poor ground.


    By and large, the trail/path is separated from the Chena Hot Springs Road and is 10′ in width. In some cases (a total of 3040′ along the entire project), a 6′ chain link fence separates the trail/path from Chena Hot Springs Road.

    The trail/path does not currently extend to Weller School. As mentioned elsewhere, there are discussions underway between DOT/PF and Exclusive Landscaping as to how and if to accomplish this. The Weller School administration and PTA has been urging this logical connection.



    Electric and Telephone Relocation

    These activities do not fall under the main project. GVEA (452-1151) and PTI (800-478-3011 or 800-478-3121) are responsible independently for the necessary relocation of electric and telephone facilities within the project area. I do know that GVEA contracted with Grasle Electric to relocate the electric lines and poles. They appear to be doing some work at the phone line level as well.


    I hope you find this site useful. gary(at)chena.org –

    Last updated Oct. 18, 1998