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Chena Hot Springs Road Improvements
Project No. 0650(026)/63467 & 0650(029)/NFHWY00289

Frequently Asked Questions

What did DOT&PF do to incorporate feedback received on these projects?
There were two open houses held for the Steese/CHSR roundabout project (July 21, 2014 and January 27, 2016). Comments and responses, including those submitted via email and social media, are available upon request.  The primary nature of public comments that were not favorable to roundabouts generally hit three main themes:

  • Opposition to spending state money on the match portion of the federally funded project (approximately 10% of construction costs, or $500,000) given the current fiscal climate, particularly with the MP 0-6 corridor in such poor condition. DOT&PF agreed with the public that the MP 0-6 corridor was in need of an upgrade, so we initiated the MP 0-6 rehabilitation project using 90% federal funds. We are also constructing the roundabout portion of the project using 100% federal highway safety funds.
  • Concerns roundabouts will slow down commuters or generate unacceptable traffic queues. In response to this concern, DOT&PF added a bypass ramp so that one of the predominant traffic movements (northbound Steese/eastbound CHSR) could travel similarly to how they do today without having to enter the roundabout. Traffic modeling shows that delay in the peak hour for any given movement will be minimal, and traffic queues will not obstruct traffic entering from Rainbow Drive to CHSR.
  • Concerns with the steepness of grade approaching Steese Highway from the west, where entering southbound Steese traffic often has to yield to the heavier movement from the east. This was considered in the design and the grade will be flattened. The roundabout yield condition for traffic approaching from this direction is anticipated to be less delay during peak hour compared to current conditions since all traffic entering the roundabout will have to yield, not just westbound CHSR/southbound Steese.

A telephone survey of 203 area residents in January 2017 indicated that 57% of respondents believed the intersection of Steese/CHSR needed some improvement, and 44% of respondents reported seeing a crash or witnessing an unsafe situation at the intersection. All respondents were generally more favorable about roundabouts upon hearing that the North Pole roundabouts reduced crashes by 68%.

How did DOT&PF arrive at the decision to move forward with the roundabouts?
It all comes back to safety. Crash data shows us that this intersection is in need of improvement. Growth projections show that this area will increase in population over the next decade, magnifying the traffic flow and safety issues we see today. Roundabouts at this intersection will prevent injury and death in the future, which is our top concern. After hearing concerns from the public, we considered how other alternatives suggested by the public compared to the roundabouts in terms of safety and operational improvements. We decided on the roundabout alternative because it will most effectively address safety and traffic flow issues, but several changes were incorporated into the design based on public feedback, including the bypass lane, grade reduction on the western section of CHSR, and improvement in the MP 0-6 corridor.

When will construction begin?
The project design of the Steese/CHSR roundabouts and MP 0-6 rehabilitation project are being coordinated, with construction of both expected to begin in 2020.

What is the construction cost?
The Steese/CHSR roundabouts and intersection improvements are anticipated to cost $5M, while MP 0-6 rehabilitation project is expected to be approximately $17M.

Are there other alternatives to roundabouts?
Other alternatives were considered including installing mirrors, installing traffic signals and widening the bridge. Of all the alternatives considered, roundabouts are the safest, provide the best mobility through the intersection long-term, and are the most cost effective solution at this location.

Where can I learn more?
Carl Heim (roundabouts) Dave Fischer, (MP 0-6 Rehab)