It may be slow going for a while for Glenn Highway commuters, but a speedier highway is on the way.
Construction on Phase II of the Glenn Highway Artillery to Hiland Capacity Improvements project is underway along the state’s second-busiest highway corridor. The project will add a new three-lane southbound bridge across Eagle River alongside the northbound bridge completed in 2015, as well as a new southbound frontage road west of the Glenn.
Commuters will notice the construction in the form of reduced speed limits and off-ramp closures. The southbound Hiland Road exit was closed Monday and will remain closed for about a month while work on the new frontage road -- an extension of Eagle View Drive -- continues, according to project manager Tal Maxwell.
Maxwell said other work this fall will include the repair of earthquake damage to the abutments on the new northbound bridge, which saw its approach slab sink on both ends in the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Nov. 30, 2018.
“We’ve got to get that jacked up and back up to grade,” Maxwell said.
The earthquake repairs should be completed before the first snowfall, Maxwell said. The new southbound bridge is expected to be completed by next fall.
When completed, the new bridge will sit alongside the northbound bridge and allow for three lanes of traffic in both directions.
“It’ll look exactly like the northbound bridge,” Maxwell said.
The existing southbound bridge will be used for the new frontage road. The improvements will increase capacity on the highway, which currently handles about 55,000 vehicles per day, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Within the next 20 years, that number is expected to double, according to a video about the project posted on the department’s website. Only the Seward Highway in Anchorage sees a higher volume of traffic than the Glenn, which links Anchorage to the communities of Chugiak-Eagle River and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
The department has made it easy for residents to find out about road closures and detours during construction ahead of time through an email list and website. Maxwell said anyone can sign up for the email notifications, which will include descriptions of ongoing work and potential route disruptions.
“Every week we send out an email of what people can expect,” he said.
The department’s website (eagleriverbridgeak.com) also includes a conceptual video showing what the new highway will look like when the project is completed.
Maxwell said that so far, work on the project has been going smoothly.
“We’re right on schedule so far. The weather’s been great.”