The Unofficial Chena Hot Springs Road Upgrade Homepage

A community service provided by Gary Newman

Final 1997 Page

You can see the 1998 page here

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 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:
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
  • McLean Electric – 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.

  • We all have seen and felt lots of culverts going in.
  • 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.

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: I’m no longer mirroring their page constantly as the later updates from DOT project office receptionist Madrilena Bradley seem to be free of the coding errors. It would be nice if they would give me the reciprocal link to this page, as I give one to theirs. Web courtesy, eh?

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. Weather permitting, that which is torn up for construction should be paved by the beginning of October, 1997, according to Bea McCosker of DOT/PF (see Latest News). Philip Anderson of Exclusive Landscaping had hoped to be done sooner, but indicated they 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.

  • 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. Weather permitting, Exclusive Landscaping hopes to get started the beginning of April 1998.

Traffic during Construction

Bea has some good info on her page.

During road construction, Exclusive Landscaping president Phil Anderson begs drivers to

Slow Down

He is afraid someone is going to get hurt. Also gravel is easily tossed from car to car and can crack windshields, something that always improves a driver’s demeanor. Of course, Chena Hot Springs drivers are used to the kamikaze method of driving, particularly with the sink-holes and dips to dodge. We should probably learn better driving habits now that we are getting a substantially better road.

Latest News

  • 11/18/97 – Believe it or not, McLean Electric is trying to get light poles up that finally arrived. They will be able to only get poles working at Bennett Road and Elementary Drive. Due to late work by Exclusive between old and New Steese, the lighting under the bridge is not going to be reinstalled until the ground thaws, as with Steele Creek Road and a few other locations.

  • 10/26/97 – Apart from light poles (you can see temporary posts up until the light poles arrive, I’d say they are about done for the season. Those of us beyond Steele Creek Road can look forward to more activity in the spring! In the meantime, there is a new-found freedom in being able to drive the road without fear of falling over the edge or bouncing up to the roof of one’s vehicle. I’ve had so many suspension repairs to my vehicle in the past few years from shocks to ball joints to exhaust pipe, maybe now that will slack off?
  • 10/26/97 – There was some good info about being sure to stop for school buses on DOT’s page, even though it is a 4 lane (but not divided) highway. You still need to stop. Perhaps the school district can be contacted to find some better solutions.

  • 10/26/97 – With some luck, I can stop updating this page for the season and take a break for the winter. I’m glad to have done if folks found it useful.

    More News

  • 10/16/97 – Looks like pavement turn and lines are just about done. Most work done for the season. I don’t think it makes sense to merge to one lane just west of the Steese Expressway bridge – it ought to be 2 lane with a marked left turn lane sign hanging from the bridge. What do you think?

  • 10/16/97 – No word on what they decided to do about the bad sections east of Bennett Road that they patched, but there was an interesting article in the Newsminer recently.

  • 10/16/97 – I’m told DOT delayed approval of the light poles so the poles won’t arrive for another few weeks, so don’t blame the electricians for being slow to connect lighting, as they have to work in too cold weather and couldn’t do their thing until the main road work was near complete.

  • 9/26/97 – What DOT/PF plans to do about the percolating new section of road just east of Bennett Road. From Madrilena Bradley of DOT/PF: “Test holes on the failing section of new pavement are scheduled to be drilled on Tuesday September 30th. The results of the test will determine what sort of repair will be done and when it will be accomplished.”

  • 9/22/97 – DOT/PF says on their web page that paving won’t be starting until next week. I was kind of surprised Exclusive jumped in so late in the season ripping up all the Steele Creek Road section as well as the Curry’s section.

Old News

    Answers from Bea McCosker of DOT/PF on 9/10/97

    You may have observed that the excavation went up station (east) from
    the Steele Creek intersection, thus leveling out the lower elevation area
    before the first driveway to the left past Juniper Drive going east. The
    remainder of the road will be done next year.

    The bike path/multi-use trail [DOT calls it a “MUT”] will probably not be complete unless the weather is fair for an inordinately long time beyond today (Sept. 10, 1997).

    The target date for close of project is now the end of the first week in October.

  • 8/25/97 – There is about 2 weeks more of heavy hauling, which is the main reason for the longer flagged delays these days.

  • 8/25/97 – Weather permitting, Exclusive Landscaping hopes to be starting paving from Eastview on Weller Hill to the new pavement just past Bennett on Wed. August 27. They hope to do the new approach to Elementary Drive as well, presumably before school opens after Labor Day.

  • 8/25/97 – The Steele Creek Road intersection with the CHSR will be getting into heavy demolition (scrapers, etc.) also beginning Wed. Aug. 27. This will mean an end to the time-efficient bypass along Steele Creek Road. Gosh darn it!

  • 8/25/97 – The flagging and construction will continue from 8 am to 6 pm or so, through Sept. 22, 1997 or so. This means school buses will continue to be delayed until the end of the project. If it were only 8:30 am when they started, it would make quite a difference!

  • 8/25/97 – With Grasle out there stringing telephone cable, there is also supposedly an outfit installing fiber optic cable. I’ve got to ask about this one. I also saw GC Cable out along the road. Does this mean that the CHSR folks may finally be offered cable TV? So I asked and here is the response from DOT project office receptionist and all around person Madrilena Bradley:

      “This office received your request for information about the various
      cable/electrical activities on the project. A company named Wilde (whose
      Alaska based office is in Anchorage) is working with Metropolitan Fibre
      Systems installing fibre optic for Alyeska Pipeline Company. G.C. Cable is
      working on installing T.V. cable and Grasle is working on relocating
      P.T.I.’s cable system. Only Grasle’s work is being inspected by D.O.T
      (utilities section) as that relocation work was caused by the design of
      this project.”

  • 8/8/97 – Exclusive Landscaping figures they may be having folks drive back onto the new Chena Hot Springs Road and eliminate the Old Chena Hot Springs Road detour by 8/11/97. Looks like they will have a good base course of gravel on the new section before we drive it, although it won’t be paved.
  • 8/7/97 – What do you think of the newly paved section? Looks like space for an island going in at Steele Creek Road. Not a great idea in my personal opinion, but that’s what the plans suggest.

  • 8/5/97 – McLean Electric is getting wires buried under the road and continuing on with pedestals for lighting.

  • 8/2/97 – I’m looking for a private property owner who will let me put up
    a small sign advertising this web site for the road construction. Exclusive took
    down my mini-sign advertising this informational web page. DOT said it was
    illegal(probably so) and had to be removed immediately. It is strange that one can put up illegal commercial and
    political signs and have no repercussions, but dare to put up an informational
    sign on a public project and they get right on it with sign removal. Apologies for
    the personal digression.

  • 7/31/97 – Exclusive expects to re-route traffic back to the “new” Chena Hot Springs Road from the “old” road detour mid August, although it will still be a dirt/gravel road. I suspect they need to work on adjusting the south side of the road along Weller hill to the final grade, where we have been driving since the big cut in the hill began.

  • 7/31/97 – Exclusive also reports that Bridge Street (see the details page) will be constructed this year.

  • Amazing to me how much dirt has come off the Weller Hill. Look for similar treatment next year at the 5.5 mile area hills.

  • 7/15/97 – Road restrictions are off and flagging can continue later in the evening, but currently scheduled just until 6 pm or so, except for short stops to allow borrow trucks safe passage.

Common questions

My questions on this project have been mostly answered by Bea McCosker of
DOT/PF. She can be reached via email at:, but is now on another project, so try instead the project manager Rod Anderson at:

  • Why the bike path crossing of Chena Hot Springs Road around Bennett Road?

    The bike/multi-purpose trail was placed on the south side of Chena Hot Springs Road between Nordale and Bennett Road. It then crosses at Bennett Road and ties into the rough trail used by horse folks and others. It will continue to the Steese Highway. There is some discussion currently going on as to whether to extend the trail up Elementary Drive to Weller School.

  • What is the reason for the paved Old Chena Hot Springs Road? This is a temporary detour to allow comprehensive reconstruction of the main road between the two points.

  • What is happening with the huge slash piles such as at mile 1 on the south side, mile 3 on the north side, etc.? Once the embankments are constructed, these piles will be distributed along the side grades of the newly constructed road, then covered with 12″ of silt. This saves having to transport the piles off site or burn the slash (always a favorite with the neighbors).

  • What is the cleared area by Elementary Drive? Because the Chena Hot Springs Road is being shaved down at the top, it would make Elementary Drive too steep. They are making Elementary Drive longer with less of a grade, also eliminating the bad curve midway up Elementary Drive. Having had my truck smashed by a Weller parent that couldn’t make that turn, I’m thinking this is a good thing.

  • What kind of fill is being used at the turn at 3 mile? Last time the road
    was rebuilt (1978), sand was used and the road fell apart soon thereafter. From Bea McCosker: “The fill at Gettinger’s calls for 8″ of gravel/sandy material which is specified at less than or equal to 10% -#200 material, on top of that is 30″ of non-frost susceptable material which is specified at less than or equal to 6% -#200 material, on top of that is 4″ of crushed gravel material, and finally 1 1/2″ to 2″ of pavement. DOT Design says that there are diminishing returns for lots of money spent for gravel materials that are placed between
    2 1/2 to 4 feet from the top of the travelled way. This fill is 3 1/2 feet deep. Design maintains that silt materials will hold the roadway prism at 42″ deep. But there are no guarentees. We just keep trying to get the best design for the most economical price.”

  • Why is that house on the south side all boarded up when you go around the curve at Eastwood Drive off Steele Creek? I worked with an older fellow named Charlie for BP (what was then Sohio) in Prudhoe Bay around 1982. He had it built and was planning to retire there. I would think he is long past retirement, so I really don’t know anymore. Let me know if you know.

  • How does DOT/PF intend to keep people from stealing the Love Road sign? Give them a call at 488-3915 or via email at with your suggestions!

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)

  • 8/2/97 – from a road resident: via email “Thanks for the nice CHSR page. It’s very helpful and answered lots of my questions!” I appreciate the feedback. Since I put up my little sign at the CHSR offramp, it seems like I’ve been getting about 20 hits per day on the page.

  • 6/14/97 – from a road resident: “Considering that anytime you do road construction, things are a mess, I think the contractors are doing a pretty good job.”

  • 6/3/97 – The nasty dips in the road following installation of culverts

    From Bea McCosker: “The contractor will be told again that the traffic maintenance around the culvert installations is unacceptable. Sorry for the bad state of repairs.”

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

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

Last updated April 13, 1998