The concrete construction work, which began on Saturday at the intersection of Johansen- and Geist-Straße, will continue on Monday and will continue in the direction of Danby throughout the week.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has worked to improve road safety and replace concrete barriers in certain corridors around Fairbanks with new ones that meet current design standards. Last year and earlier this season, workers completed work on the Mitchell Expressway, Steese Highway, and Richardson Highway at the North Pole. Now they will focus on the barriers along the Johansen Expressway.
The old barriers have been around for several decades and “need to be replaced because they were at the end of their lifespan,” said Caitlin Frye, information officer for the northern region at DOT. In addition, the new barriers will have yellow reflective guide strips along the front of the barrier to improve visibility, especially in the dark winter months.
The department tested different types of reflective strips to see how well they worked, but struggled to hold them in place.
“People really liked them and thought they would really improve visibility, but the problem was our snow plows kept tearing them off until we tried different ways to attach them to the existing barriers,” Frye said.
The DOT maintenance team and engineers worked together to find a solution to “keep the reflective strips people like and also reduce maintenance by constantly replacing them”. The new strips are “let into the barrier like in a small pocket”.
Workers began upgrading the Geist and Johansen intersection on Saturday, keeping the road open but blocking some of the lanes. They plan to complete the patch of the Johansen Expressway to Danby Road by the end of the week. From Monday, the working hours are from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“People are going to run into these lane restrictions, like the two-way single lane closure in the morning, but we hope we’ll be out by the evening rush,” Frye said. “It should be better this way on the way home, but if you go to work or school in the morning, we will work.”
Drivers should watch out for reduced speeds from Monday to Saturday. Frye recalled that the workers are on the other side of the cones on the road and it is important for the drivers to slow down.
“It’s not a comfortable situation for a worker to be on the other side of a high-speed line like this,” she said. “So we just really want people to take care of the workers. Don’t look at your phone, stay vigilant and please slow down if you get through. “