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Airport Way/Steese Expressway Interchange
Project No. 0002(385)/NFHWY00245

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF), in cooperation with the Alaska Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), proposes safety improvements at the intersection of Gaffney Road, Airport Way, Richardson Highway, and the Steese Expressway in Fairbanks, Alaska. This project is being developed under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).

Purpose & Need:

The purpose of this project is to construct a grade-separated facility at the intersection of Gaffney Road, Airport Way, Richardson Highway, and the Steese Expressway (GARS) to improve safety and traffic flow.

The existing intersection is regularly in the top 10 of all intersections in Northern Region for total number of crashes within a 5-year window. It has the 5th-highest number of total injury and fatal crashes.

Construction of a grade-separated interchange will improve safety by providing a free flow of northbound/southbound traffic on the Richardson Highway/Steese Expressway--removing nearly 35% of the traffic volume from the signalized intersection. This reduces the number of potential conflicts between turning vehicles.

Project Scope:

This project proposes the following actions:

  • Elevating the Richardson Highway/Steese Expressway over the intersection
  • Constructing on- and off-ramps to access Airport Way and Gaffney Road
  • Adding new lighting, signage, striping, drainage, traffic signals, and pedestrian multi-use path improvements
  • Improving drainage and relocating the existing snow dump near the Chena River to improve maintenance access and water quality treatment

Project Status:

The project is underway. Preliminary engineering efforts are concluding and the Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) has been identified as the proposed alternative. Field investigations, including a traffic noise study and a topographic survey, are being conducted and are almost complete. Detailed design on the DDI concept will begin in summer 2019.

Public Outreach:

Several public meetings, information kiosks, and presentations were conducted in 2018 and early 2019. A Public Open House was conducted in October 2018 to present and discuss the alternatives. Download a copy of the Open House posters here.

Be sure to sign up for project emails to be notified of the next Open House (anticipated this summer).

Public Presentation Photos

On Thursday, October 11, 2018, the GARS project team hosted a Public Open House from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Two information kiosks were held in Fairbanks at Fred Meyer and on the Fort Wainwright base.

Additional Project Presentations

  • March 5, 2019 – Alaska Section of Institute of Transportation Engineers
  • January 22, 2019 – Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce
  • December 13, 2018 – Alaska Society of Professional Engineers
  • September 20, 2018 – Fairbanks Transportation Committee

Core Concept - DDI:

Diverging Diamond Interchange concept
click for pdf file

One major difference between a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) and a more traditional diamond interchange: in a DDI, traffic within the core of the interchange crosses over, and the conflicting left-turning movement is eliminated from the signals. The left-turning movements are allowed a “free left.” Eliminating this movement from the signal allows the signal to operate in two phases, improving capacity and reducing delay, and the need to have long or double left-turning turn bays is not necessary.

Project Schedule:

project schedule