Construction of moose fence, sewer lines starts along Minnesota Drive

Nathaniel Herz
An Alaska Clearing and Grinding mulcher grinds debris along the northbound exit ramp to 100th Avenue on Thursday, January 2, 2014, off Minnesota Drive. A wide swath of trees and brush has been removed along O'Malley Road from C street west around the curve up Minnesota Drive to 100th Avenue for a utility project related to a new development. Coincidentally, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is also preparing to install about 42,000 feet of moose fence from the Alaska Railroad tracks just west of the Old Seward Highway along O'Malley Road around the curve and up Minnesota Drive to International Airport Road.
Erik Hill
An Alaska Clearing and Grinding excavator with mulching attachment grinds down small trees along the northbound exit ramp to 100th Avenue on Thursday, January 2, 2014, off Minnesota Drive. A wide swath of trees and brush has been removed along O'Malley Road from C street west around the curve up Minnesota Drive to 100th Avenue for a utility project related to a new development. Coincidentally, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is also preparing to install about 42,000 feet of moose fence from the Alaska Railroad tracks just west of the Old Seward Highway along O'Malley Road around the curve and up Minnesota Drive to International Airport Road.
Erik Hill
Traffic heads north as a wide swath of trees and brush has been removed along O'Malley Road from C street west around the curve up Minnesota Drive to 100th Avenue for a utility project related to a new development.
Erik Hill

The strip of land next to Minnesota Drive and O'Malley Road in South Anchorage may not strike residents as prime real estate. Nonetheless, it's become a hot spot for construction, as separate crews working for a local developer and the state transportation department install sewer lines and a fence designed to keep moose off the road.

The most noticeable work, extensive clearing along the curve between 100th Avenue and C Street, is for the sewer lines. It's a $4 million project to connect existing infrastructure with a new outlet mall planned nearby, at 100th Avenue and C Street, according to Leonard Hyde, the president of the company behind the development.

Work also started this week on a moose fence along the road, between International Airport Road and the Old Seward Highway, though the clearing for that project is limited -- at most 60 feet from the edge of the road, but typically less, according to Bob Anderson, the project manager for the state's department of transportation.

He stressed that the state project was distinct from the work on the sewer lines.

"It looks like we just went crazy and cleared a lot more than we needed to," Anderson said. "We're just coming along and we're shaving some of the trees off, just to give us enough access to put the fence in."

The sewer line project is expected to be mostly completed by March, according to Brian Baus, a planner with the city's water and wastewater utility.

The work is being done during the winter because part of the project goes through federally protected wetlands.

JL Properties is paying for the work, according to Hyde, with a contribution from native corporation CIRI, which owns a neighboring property.

The state is also working on the moose fence during the winter to minimize the impact on the wetlands, according to Anderson, the project manager.

The $1.1 million installation will be covered by money from a federal safety program. State traffic planners maintain that the fence along Minnesota Drive and O'Malley Road will cut down on crashes between moose and cars, which averaged just under 10 a year between 2000 and 2010.

A state biologist, however, has said that openings along the fence at intersections could actually increase crashes.

The state's contractor, McKinley Fence, is due to complete the fence in May, Anderson said.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.

 


By NATHANIEL HERZ
nherz@adn.com