A major traffic pattern change will affect drivers on the Seward Highway between Tudor and Dowling roads beginning Saturday night and extending through most of next year.
Four bridges over Campbell Creek on the north- and southbound lanes of the Seward Highway and its adjoining frontage roads are being rebuilt.
Upon completion, scheduled for 2014, the highway will stand about eight feet higher than its current elevation over the creek, allowing a bike path to run under the highway and connect trails on the east and west sides of town.
The first bridge on Homer Drive, the frontage road on the west side of the highway, was recently completed, making it possible to reroute traffic so that the southbound bridge on the main highway can be removed and replaced.
Starting about 8 p.m. Saturday, drivers in the southbound lanes of the highway will be diverted onto Homer Drive, just south of the Tudor Road overpass. Traffic will reconnect with the highway shortly before reaching the Dowling Road roundabout.
All side streets entering Homer Drive, including International Airport Road, will be closed except for 56th Avenue, which is near where drivers will return to the existing highway.
The pattern will continue through fall 2013 while workers rebuild the southbound bridge over Campbell Creek, said Chong Kim, Department of Transportation project director. Northbound lanes will not be affected until later, after work is completed on the southbound lanes and they are reopened.
The detour will not encounter stoplights and should provide an unobstructed route for vehicles, Kim said. However speed limits will be reduced in this section of the project and drivers are urged to use "extreme caution" when traveling through the construction zone.
Issues with the Homer Drive bridge "kind of delayed the whole project," Kim said. "We'll be trying to make up the delay by working during the winter."
Reach Mike Dunham at email@example.com or 257-4332.