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Aerial of project area.

University Avenue Rehabilitation & Widening

Jump to information about the 2023 construction season.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and contractor Great Northwest, Inc. are widening and reconstructing University Avenue from the Mitchell Expressway to the Thomas Street intersection. University Avenue is a high-volume urban route that serves as the primary north-south transportation corridor on the west side of Fairbanks. Construction of the entire University corridor started at the Geist/Johansen/University intersection in May 2018 and is expected to last through 2023.

A drone looks across University Avenue, down Geist Road from the Johansen Expressway. Reconstruction of this intersection took place in 2018. Photo by Brandy Milles, DOT&PF

Why so much work on University?

The purpose of this project is to improve safety and mobility through this high-volume route by

  • widening University Avenue to include a raised center median,
  • adding left turn lanes at non-signalized intersections,
  • reconstructing the intersections at Geist Road/Johansen Expressway and Airport Way,
  • replacing the Chena River Bridge,
  • adding 4.5-foot shoulders,
  • expanding sidewalks to include an 8-foot sidewalk on the west side and 6-foot sidewalk on the east side,
  • relocating driveway accesses and side streets, and
  • improving Geraghty Avenue and Halvorson Road to accommodate the access changes.
  • improving and updating utilities and drainage throughout the entire corridor.

The work for this project has been divided into smaller segments that are being constructed between 2018 and 2023. The work that has already been completed as of spring of 2023 includes

  • reconstruction of the University Avenue / Geist Road / Johansen Expressway intersection, and University Avenue / Airport Way intersection,
  • widening and rehabilitation of University Avenue between Airport Way and Thomas Street,
  • replacement of the Chena River Bridge No. 263,
  • utility relocation and side street work between Geist Road / Johansen Expressway and Airport Way,
  • reconstruction of University Avenue from Holden Road through the Mitchell Expressway.

Travis Donovan, DOT&PF project engineer, looks across the closure at Geist Road and University Avenue during the intersection’s reconstruction in 2018. Photo by Caitlin Frye, DOT&PF

Crane operators lift the pre-assembled temporary pedestrian bridge onto pilings in the Chena River in November 2020.
Photo by Jacob Helton, DOT&PF

2023 Construction Season

University Avenue will be reconstructed from Holden Road through Rewak Drive to complete the new continuous sidewalks, raised median, and intersection improvements along the corridor. University Avenue will be closed between Airport Way and Rewak Drive for much of the season. We anticipate some changing traffic patterns throughout the season to get all of the work done, so stay tuned to Alaska 511.

Innovative Solutions to a big construction project

This project is using the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) delivery method — this method allows for greater innovations in design and the ability to plan the construction to find efficiencies and cost savings. Learn more about CMGC here. We are working with local contractor Great Northwest, Inc. and bridge subcontractor Hamilton Construction Alaska Co. to develop the plans.

We welcome your feedback and questions and encourage area property owners to contact us.

What’s already been done and what’s to come?

Construction on this project began with the reconstruction of the University Avenue / Geist Road / Johansen Expressway intersection in 2018. Between 2018 and 2019, University Avenue was reconstructed from College Road to Wolf Run, just south of the intersection with Geist Road and the Johansen Expressway. Utility relocations and a portion of the side street work was also completed in 2019.

In 2020, the intersection of Airport Way and University Avenue was reconstructed, including extensive utility work between Airport Way and Rewak Drive. Replacement of the Chena River Bridge began in the fall of 2020 and was completed, and University Avenue re-opened in all its glory in October 2021. 2021 also saw completion of all major University Avenue improvements between the Geist/Johansen and Airport Way intersections. In 2022 University Avenue was reconstructed from Holden Road through the Mitchell Expressway.

The graphic below shows what has been done in previous years, as well as what will be completed this year.

Project graphic