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Northern Region 2021 Construction Season Info

Explore this year’s Northern Region construction projects through our guided, interactive story maps:

You can also explore this year’s Northern Region construction season on your own through this interactive map:

Construction by numbers

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General Project Information

Construction Traffic Information

For updated traffic impact information related to our construction projects, please visit AlaskaNavigator.org. You can also sign up for our weekly Northern Region Construction Update emails by entering your email address here:

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How an idea becomes a construction project

The projects you see constructed in 2021, and every other year, start with an evaluation of our state’s infrastructure needs. Out of these needs, projects are planned with the help of stakeholders and the public, funding from our federal partners is secured to begin the project, and the design process begins.

The design process includes completing the environmental document, getting feedback from stakeholders and the public about the project, acquiring any necessary property or right-of-way, making agreements with utility companies, creating the detailed construction plan, and estimating the cost of construction. This process can be completed entirely in-house, partially in-house with the assistance of a consultant, or primarily by a consultant with oversight from DOT&PF staff.

When all that preparation work is complete and a project is ready to be delivered to construction, it is submitted to our federal partners for funding approval. If approved, the project is typically advertised to construction contractors who submit bids stating the price at which they can build the project. The contractor who meets the requirements of the bid advertisement and submits the lowest bid is generally awarded the project. In some cases, we use alternative procurement methods, like Construction Manager / General Contractor, in which a construction price is negotiated with a contractor.

The awarded contractor will construct the project as specified in the plan set with contract oversight and quality control managed by DOT&PF staff.

Girders are placed on the new bridge connecting the community of Kivalina to the mainland and
the site of the new community school, photo by DOT&PF staff.

Teaming in construction

Our projects are developed using a team approach. Here at DOT&PF’s Northern Region, we are organized into groups made up of employees with a variety of backgrounds, expertise, and job functions. We bring together design engineers, right-of-way agents, environmental analysts, construction engineers, and other key players to help with the project at the beginning of the design process. We also ask for feedback from maintenance personnel, funding partners, community members, businesses, and other stakeholders while the project is being developed.

This teamed approach helps head off potential problems early in the process, fosters creativity and innovation, ensures a variety of opinions and agendas are considered, and creates a sense of ownership across the department and the community.

Bypass excavation for Chena Hot Springs Roundabouts project, photo by DOT&PF staff.

Closures, detours, signs, and cones—how we manage traffic during construction

When making decisions about how to manage traffic through construction zones, we look at each project individually, consider how each project interacts with other construction projects in the area, and consider how detoured traffic impacts our transportation system as a whole. We try to balance several different factors:

  • Safety of the public and the workers
  • Impacts to businesses and the public
  • Available funding
  • Time to complete the project under a variety of conditions

The vast majority of funding for our road construction projects comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). For those federally-funded projects, FHWA requires us to look at closing a road as a first option to manage traffic. Generally this is not an option on our rural projects because of a lack of alternative routes. However, if there are reasonable detours around the construction zone, the existing transportation network can handle the increase in traffic, and a closure doesn’t block access to homes, business, or essential resources, this option can have big benefits including:

  • Decreasing the amount of time needed to complete the project
  • Decreasing the cost of the project
  • Increasing safety for workers and the traveling public
  • Minimizing impacts on businesses