DOT, utilities forming relocation plans along KGB

KGB Road Reconstruction Plan, KTUU

WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Transportation is working with utility companies operating along Knik Goose Bay Road to relocate their facilities and make room for the road's expansion.

According to DOT this is one of the most time consuming and expensive phases of the project -- costing an estimated $30 million, nearly a quarter of the total estimated cost of the project.

Citing safety concerns, KGB residents and commuters have called for the state to speed up its construction timeline on the new four-lane road. On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly passed a resolution prompting the State Legislature and Governor Mike Dunleavy to expedite the project “… in the interest of safety for all our citizens.”

The governor has made the project a top priority of his administration, but because the project is federally funded DOT says it has to follow a strictly-regulated process which is difficult to hasten.

"I think some people are frustrated by that because they think that maybe we can purchase land more quickly,” DOT spokesperson Shannon McCarthy said, “but we really have to ensure that the private property owners’ rights are represented."

Part of this process includes consulting those with property along KGB that falls within the boundaries of the project design. At least five utilities have existing infrastructure which will need to be relocated to accommodate the expansion, including the Matanuska Electric Association, the Matanuska Telephone Association, ENSTAR Natural Gas, and more.

Each utility with property or infrastructure located within the project boundary must submit a design to either temporarily relocate or redesign its infrastructure. DOT says it will soon hire a consultant to work with utilities and ensure their relocation designs do not encroach on each other. All companies are being cooperative, according to DOT, but making everyone happy is not easy.

"They also need to coordinate with each other to make sure they don't have any overlapping conflicts,” DOT Traffic Safety and Utilities Chief Cynthia Ferguson said. “They will also need to coordinate to make sure that during construction, they can provide services to their customers."

Ferguson says her team is making sure all utility relocation designs are ready when phase one construction on the new four-lane roadway starts in 2021.

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