The Maud Road Extension and access to the Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range in the Knik River Public Use Area (KRPUA) will be closed through July.

A three-month long construction project aims to widen the road to two lanes and improve drainage in the area.

Project manager Lorett Nabong with the state Department of Natural Resources said the dirt road was constructed in the early 1980s and there's been minimal maintenance since — leaving the Butte road ridden with deep, water-logged potholes.

“This water will just sit and then that freeze-thaw will cause the continuous breakup of the existing road and just cause additional damage,” Nabong explained.

The extension is the primary vehicle access point to the shooting range, which was used by more than 20,000 people last year. KRPUA land manager Travis Jensen said a wide array of people recreate in the area including duck hunters who frequent Jim Lake, canoers and kayakers who visit the wetlands, and hikers and bikers who favor non-motorized easements.

Jensen said widening the road will also make it easier for emergency vehicles to get through.

A majority of the funding for the $1.24 million project comes from federal dollars from the Pittman-Robertson Act which collects excise taxes from firearm and ammunition sales.

Nabong said the project also includes the installation of 20 culverts to help with drainage, including a fish passage for McRoberts Creek.

“We have a reconstructed channel at the inlet and outlet, and it’s kind of a riverbank reveg-slash-restoration,” Nabong said.

Jensen said they chose to close the road completely for three and a half months, instead of breaking up the project over several years. The road is too narrow for regular traffic to pass while construction crews are working.

“We’re not seeking to pave it and to put in a highway and everything else, but the road needs some love. It’s hurting,” Jensen said.

Work on the waterways, like McRoberts Creek, can only be done in the spring and Jensen said it was important to have the road back open in August for the beginning of hunting season.

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