We are working to refine design concepts to improve safety at the intersection of Gaffney Road, Airport Way, Richardson Highway, and Steese Expressway (GARS) near the Fort Wainwright Gate in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The purpose of this project is to reduce the high incidence of crashes at this intersection. In doing so, this project will also address current and future congestion and capacity issues, helping to get you through this busy intersection faster and more safely.
The existing intersection is regularly in the top 10 of all intersections in Fairbanks for total number of crashes within a five-year period. It has the fifth-highest number of total injury crashes. It’s also Fairbanks’ second busiest intersection after the Geist Road/Johansen Expressway intersection, with 35,000 vehicles per day.
Our first round of public meetings in 2018 looked at the possibility of building an overpass with a bridge (interchange) that would elevate Richardson Highway / Steese Expressway traffic over Airport Way and Gaffney Road (going into Fort Wainwright). The project team is now looking at solutions to improve safety at this intersection that do not require building a bridge. Why?
It’s all about getting the biggest benefit from the money we receive.
The federally-funded Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), which is where we’re getting the money for this project, gives Alaska about $50 million per year for construction to improve safety on our roads.
If we use that entire pot of money (or maybe more) to build a bridge for Steese Expressway traffic, other important safety projects won’t get built.
There are lots of important projects out there that would improve safety on roads all across our state.
In trying to develop solutions that were more affordable, we also tried to address some of the comments we heard from the public, such as maintaining access between 10th Avenue and the Steese Expressway, which is especially important to businesses and emergency responders.
In February 2020 we presented two lower-cost design options at a public meeting that improved intersection operations and safety while eliminating the need for a bridge or overpass. Both options addressed the local business and public concerns and reduced the amount of private property needed to construct the project.
We’ve selected our preferred design and now we want to hear what you think about it.
This innovative design is different than anything else in Fairbanks, but it’s a relatively cheap fix that we can build more quickly with no need for additional private property, all while maintaining access at 10th Avenue and retaining more existing vegetation. Intersections like this have been proven to work in other snow states and we have a lot of features in the design to make sure you can navigate it easily, even in the winter. See an aerial view and read more about a CFI-MUT here.
Better yet, check out our video simulations that show what it will be like to drive through all parts of the intersection. The videos will show you that while this looks complicated from the air, it will make sense to drivers on the ground.
An online public open house is planned for April 2021. Our project team is available to answer any questions you have and we want to hear your comments. Construction on this project is expected to begin in 2022.
This project is being developed in cooperation with the Alaska Division of the Federal Highway Administration. While developing this design concept we have also worked closely with Ft. Wainwright, the City of Fairbanks, Emergency Services personnel, the trucking industry and other community interest groups in Fairbanks to get their concerns addressed.