Skip to content

Parks Highway MP 356-362 (Mitchell Expressway) Resurfacing

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and HC Contractors are resurfacing the Mitchell Expressway starting May 2019 with an expected completion date of October 2019. The project limits start on the Mitchell Expressway (Parks Highway) between Geist Road and Sheep Creek Extension, at milepost 356, where the expressway begins its transition into a divided highway. The project limits end at the ramps at the Richardson Highway junction, and includes work on those ramps.

UPDATE: Parks-bound closure extended between University Avenue and Geist Road

The Mitchell Expressway’s Parks-bound lanes opened to traffic on July 15 from the Richardson Highway to University Avenue. Parks-bound lanes between University Avenue and Geist Road will remain closed until approximately mid-August. The extended closure in this section was necessary due to unexpected additional maintenance needed on the bridge over the Chena River. The bridge is structurally sound, but we will be adding additional reinforcements where the piers meet the bridge and between the girders. This work will make the bridge last longer and prevent us from needing to come back and do more work in the near future.

Watch this video for more information on the bridge repairs.

Mitchell Update: what's happening with the Chena River Bridge? from AlaskaDOTPF on Vimeo.

Traffic Impacts

The Mitchell Expressway will have two separate one-month closures in the summer of 2019—one closure for each direction of travel:
First, the Mitchell will be closed to Richardson-bound traffic from Geist/Chena Pump to the ramps at the Richardson Highway. Parks-bound travel will remain open during this closure. This closure will begin on Monday, May 20.

Phase 1:Richardson-bound closure

Next, the Mitchell will be closed to Parks-bound traffic from the Richardson Highway ramps to Geist/Chena Pump. Richardson-bound travel will remain open during this closure. We expect the second closure to begin in mid-June.

Phase 2:Parks-bound closure

Traffic moving across the Mitchell Expressway at University Avenue, Peger Road, and Lathrop Street will be able to travel through as usual, but will not be able to turn left or right onto the Mitchell Expressway.

The detours associated with these closures will increase your travel times, especially during peak hours. During the first Richardson-bound closure, the intersection at Geist Road and Chena Pump Road under the Mitchell Expressway will be particularly busy. During the second Parks-bound closure, the intersection at Airport Way and the Steese Highway will be particularly busy. Please plan on increased travel times during the closures.

Why are you closing the road?

Why aren’t you maintaining two-way traffic on one side of the road?

We looked at converting the opposing lanes of travel to one lane in each direction, but determined it was not the best option for several reasons:

  • Turns a one-year project into a two-year project. The extra time required to set up traffic control devices, modify signage, install temporary traffic signals, paint new striping, and then break down all those systems and set them up on the opposite side again would make it impossible to complete the project in one year.
  • Saves an estimated $1 million. A cost estimate by department staff determined that closing the road could save our department approximately $1 million in project costs.
  • We would still have to close the road. The ramps at the Richardson Highway interchange are one-lane, so we can’t maintain traffic on the ramps while they are being worked on. There would be nowhere for traffic to go without running into the bridge work, which means we would have to close this section of road even if we kept the rest of it open.
  • Delays would be just as bad. The traffic delays caused by Mitchell Expressway traffic going down to one lane in each direction is similar to closing it to traffic entirely. Detouring around the project will take just as much time as driving through a congested one-lane through the project. It would also affect both directions of travel at the same time for the duration of the project, instead of having one direction of travel minimally impacted for half of the project.

Why are we building this project?

What work is included in this project?

The scope of this project includes:

  • Resurfacing the roadway
  • Minor bridge repair such as waterproofing membranes, bridge rail upgrades, joint repair
  • Upgrading guardrail and end treatments to current standards
  • Upgrading curb ramps to meet current ADA standards
  • Replacing existing highway lighting with LED fixtures
  • Replacing damaged highway lighting poles and foundations and associated electrical equipment