A Glenn Highway ‘Carzilla’ is coming to a commute near you this summer

Monday, March 2, 2020 - 12:51
  • The Glenn Highway bridge across Eagle River on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

A summertime sequel nobody is looking forward to is coming soon to a commute near you.

“It’s going to be ‘Carzilla,’” said Alaska Department of Transportation Chief of Highway Design Jim Amundsen on Saturday during a town hall meeting in Chugiak.

Amundsen was speaking about plans to reroute southbound Glenn Highway traffic onto the northbound Glenn Highway bridge this summer while a new, three-lane southbound crossing is installed. The construction will mean there will be two northbound and two southbound lanes of traffic sharing the northbound bridge and separated by a concrete divider.

The effect will likely be delays for morning and afternoon commutes on the Glenn, which according to the state currently handles about 55,000 cars per day.

Amundsen said the state will soon roll out its tongue-in-cheek informational campaign about the project, whose official name is Phase II of the Glenn Highway Artillery to Hiland Capacity Improvement Project. Phase I included construction of the new northbound bridge across the Eagle River Valley and was completed in 2015. Construction on Phase II began last fall. The work is expected to be completed by late 2020.

The ‘Carzilla’ moniker, Amundsen said, was a way to try and put a lighthearted spin on what’s likely going to be a summer-long headache for commuters passing through Eagle River on their way to and from Anchorage.

“We figured we might as well get a laugh out of it,” he said of the name, which is nod to a short-term road closure on the Glenn in 2018 dubbed “Bridgepocalypse” by those caught in the epic traffic jam.

In contrast to that event, commuters won’t be completely blocked by the roadwork, which is expected to begin April 20. Amundsen said the four-lane solution will slow traffic but still allow for as many cars as possible to pass through the choke point.

“We are trying to keep as much capacity as we can,” he said.

Officials are hoping folks will be patient during the construction season.

“We know it’s going to hurt, we just don’t have a better way to do it,” he said.

To learn more about the project, vist eagleriverbridgeak.com

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

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