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Construction Report: Third Street closes between Steese and Old Steese

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 3:43 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A new complication in the construction on 3rd Street closed off the road between the Steese and Old Steese highways starting Sunday, June 6th.

Construction workers have been busy for weeks along 3rd Street in Fairbanks. “The purpose of this project is to widen 3rd Street. We’re going to be adding additional turn lanes, widening the sidewalks. We’re also going to be adding a roundabout at the intersection of 3rd Street and Eagle Avenue,” Caitlin Frye, Northern Region Information Officer with the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT), said.

Frye added, “The purpose of that is to improve mobility, so just to get people down the street more quickly with less delay, and then also to improve safety and improve pedestrian access as well.”

Before Sunday’s closure, this segment of 3rd Street “was one-way traffic heading east.”

The street is closed in order to store potentially contaminated dirt along the side of the road. “There was an old dry-cleaning business on 3rd Street at 40-Mile, so right in between the Steese and the Old Steese, and there was some dry-cleaning solvent that ended up in the soil around there. That’s not a good chemical, not something you want in your soil, and so according to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Alaska DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) regulations, we are following a plan to contain that soil until it can be tested and then we can deal with it. We can move it offsite, [and] contain it how it needs to be contained,” Frye said.

Test results take about two weeks to be completed. “In that two week period, we have to store the materials onsite before we can do anything with it,” Frye said. “And it just turns out we have to store more than we expected and it’s taking up a lot of space.”

If the test results show no contamination, the soil can be put back into the ground.

DOT’s goal is to open the segment of 3rd Street to two-way traffic by mid-July, but the project will continue, according to Frye, “to the bitter end of the construction season, most likely. So that will be late summer, early fall is probably when they’ll be doing those final things like paving and striping.”

Pedestrian pathways along the construction zone remain open at this time, and businesses in the area can be accessed.

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