DOT commissioner comments on Knik Goose Bay Road reconstruction

DOT Commissioner John MacKinnon speaks at a traffic safety summit in Anchorage Jan. 10 (KTUU)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation John MacKinnon commented on the Knik Goose Bay reconstruction project at a traffic safety summit in Anchorage on Friday.

He said partisan politics over the last decade have delayed the project longer than necessary, but Governor Mike Dunleavy has gotten things back on track after identifying KGB as a top priority.

"Had we put this in a high priority back in 2009 when it was made a safety corridor, and focused on getting it designed, getting it under construction, the project would be done by now," MacKinnon said. "And ... you can't say for certain, but there's probably some accidents that wouldn't have happened."

The roadway has claimed 16 lives in the last three years, according to DOT. While construction on a new 4-lane highway is scheduled to begin in 2021, many are asking the state to speed up the process.

MacKinnon said DOT is in the process of obtaining right-of-way acquisitions from 200 property owners along the 8-mile stretch of KGB. This is an expensive and time consuming process.

There are five different utilities with infrastructure that will have to be redesigned or relocated to accommodate road construction, one of which is Enstar Natural Gas.

MacKinnon said the roadway passes over a major Enstar Natural Gas line which if ruptured would cut off Anchorage's gas supply. He said factoring this into the road design, now 75 percent complete, took some time.

DOT has hired on a contractor to work with the project design team. MacKinnon said this should speed up the start of construction, but did not elaborate further.

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