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Mitchell Expressway Bridge Strike

Mitchell Expressway Bridge damage detour map

The Mitchell Expressway Bridge over South Cushman Street in Fairbanks was struck by an oversize load at approximately 3 p.m. on Friday, December 10. The strike caused damage to the bridge, requiring us to restrict traffic over and under the bridge until permanent repairs can be made. This website will provide updates as the situation unfolds.

We are approaching all decisions we make moving forward with safety as our number one priority. Our number two priority is keeping traffic flowing as smoothly as possible until repairs can be made. We are working closely with our bridge design engineers in every decision we make.

Update: Friday, April 15, 2022 - Permanent Repairs
DOT&PF in partnership with Swalling Construction expect to begin permanent repairs on the bridge starting May 2. The work will require a closure of the Mitchell Expressway to outbound (towards North Pole) traffic and Cushman Street under the Mitchell overpass for approximately 3 weeks, and inbound (towards Fairbanks) Mitchell Expressway traffic closure for approximately 10 days (concurrent with 3 week closures). Pedestrians will be permitted through the Cushman Street closure. These closures are necessary to complete the work safely and permanently as the repairs for the girders are highly sensitive to traffic vibrations. We will also be replacing the 3 southern girders that were damaged beyond repair during this time.

We will be working aggressively to get this area opened up fully so we can Keep Alaska Moving!

Update: Thursday, December 16, 2021
Traffic patterns on the Mitchell Expressway bridge over South Cushman Street will change on Friday, December 17. (The changes will be implemented over night either before the Friday morning commute or on Friday night after the evening commute.) Please see the graphic above for details.

On the Mitchell Expressway, drivers will see reduced speeds beginning near Lathrop Street. The expressway will be reduced to ONE LANE over the bridge, but drivers will be able to use the exit ramp to the Richardson Highway. The Steese Expressway ramp will also continue to remain open. This mean drivers heading from the Mitchell Expressway toward the Richardson Highway and North Pole will no longer need to exit at the Old Richardson Highway.

On South Cushman Street, the right lane heading north under the bridge will remain closed. Drivers turning right from the Old Richardson Highway onto South Cushman Street will need to yield to traffic on South Cushman.

We expect this new traffic pattern to be in place through the winter until permanent repairs can be made on the bridge this spring or summer. Thank you for your patience and please remember to slow down while passing through these zones.

Update: Monday, December 13, 2021
After the bridge strike occurred, DOT&PF bridge engineers flew up from Juneau and inspected the bridge on Saturday, December 11. The bridge design team is currently working on a plan for repairs, which we expect to be able to announce to the public later this winter.

Currently traffic heading from the Mitchell Expressway to the Richardson Highway heading from Fairbanks toward North Pole must exit at the Old Richardson Highway where it can reconnect with the Richardson Highway past the bridge. Traffic heading from the Mitchell Expressway to the Steese Expressway is still open. Drivers will also see the right northbound lane closed on South Cushman Street.

This week our traffic control team is working on a permanent traffic control plan that will be in place the rest of the winter until permanent repairs can be constructed in the spring and summer. In particular, we are evaluating if and how we may be able to open up the Mitchell Expressway to Richardson Highway traffic. We will provide more details about that plan later this week.

Caption: Bridge inspectors survey damage to the Mitchell Expressway Bridge over
South Cushman Street in Fairbanks on December 11.