In 1950, the gravel highway between Cooper Landing and Homer opened. It connected Homer and other western Kenai Peninsula communities to Anchorage and made them part of the road system.
For many years, the DOT&PF has recognized that the Sterling Highway needed improvement. DOT&PF initially proposed to improve the entire section of the Sterling Highway from MP 37 to 60. In the early 1980s and again in the 1990s, DOT&PF initiated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to determine environmental impacts of proposed highway upgrades in an environmental impact statement (EIS). A number of alternative routes were identified in the 1982 and 1994 draft EISs, but later rejected for engineering, environmental, financial, and traffic constraint reasons.
Eventually, the project was divided, and in 2001, DOT&PF completed upgrades of the MP 37 to 45 section. Consequently, the highway from MP 45 to 60 is the only portion of the highway that still has tight curves and no shoulders—relics of its original construction in 1950.
The current Supplemental EIS (SEIS) process for the highway between MP 45 and 60 was initiated in 2000, with the purpose of supplementing the 1994 Draft EIS for MP 37 to 60.
Public and agency outreach and formal scoping meetings were held between July 2000 and July 2003. Scoping activities are summarized in the Scoping Summary Report (October 2006).
The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation were distributed for public review in April and May 2015.
In December 2015, DOT&PF and FHWA identified the G South Alternative as the preferred alternative for the Sterling Highway MP 45-60 project. DOT&PF and FHWA examined the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and technical reports, and considered the issues raised in hundreds of public and agency comments on the Draft SEIS. G South provides the best balance between meeting the project needs and minimizing impacts to the human environment.
A Final EIS and Record of Decision are anticipated in 2017. The decision on which alternative will be selected is not final until the Record of Decision.
Following completion of the federal environmental process, the project will enter the design phase, and construction could begin in 2020.