The Sterling Highway was constructed as a gravel road in the 1940s and 1950s. The section through Cooper Landing has not changed significantly, it does not meet modern safety standards, and is not designed for the traffic volumes of today. Environmental studies, engineering, and public involvement efforts were conducted from 2000 to 2018, resulting in final selection of the Juneau Creek Alternative. The current design work is based on the Juneau Creek Alternative as specifically described in the EIS.
The project will be constructed in five phases, beginning with the $2.9-million clearing and geotechnical drilling this summer, with all phases wrapping up around 2025. The project is 90 percent federally funded with a 10 percent state match.
The project will involve construction of 10 miles of new roadway north of Cooper Landing and the Kenai River, between MP 46.5 and 55.5. From the east (MP 45-46.5) and west (MP 56-58) ends of the existing roadway, reconstruction will include widening shoulders; bringing the roadway curves into compliance with design speeds; and adding passing lanes, pathways, and wildlife undercrossings.
The project will also include a new parking area and trailhead for the Resurrection Pass trail, with connections to the Resurrection Pass and Bean Creek trails as well as the Juneau Creek Falls overlook. New intersections will connect the old and new highways and construction will include a new bridge spanning Juneau Creek Canyon. The design features four wildlife crossing structures, including the first wildlife overpass in Alaska.
The clearing will initially be limited to the geotechnical drilling areas until mid-July to avoid potentially disturbing migratory birds. Additional clearing of the new alignment will occur after mid-July.