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The state DOT has offered suggestions on traffic safety at Herring Cove.
They sound ridiculous.
On the surface, it sounds like no Department of Transportation official even went to Herring Cove during the high-traffic summer tourist season to gather the facts before issuing suggestions. Although, maybe one did, and still came away with impossible ideas.
Congestion is bad in Herring Cove and public safety is a concern because of the bears that frequent the area. (Blame it on the bears!) But, the bears congregate there to catch fish in the creek and feed. Locals and tourists alike flock to the cove to watch the bears and photograph them.
Tour operators take visitors to the cove all day long during the tourism season, while locals and their overnight guests often visit the cove and its bears in the evenings.
This amounts to considerable traffic, and people walking on the bridge over the creek and along the South Tongass Highway where no sidewalks exist. It's man against motor vehicle, and the concern is that one day man will lose tragically.
Reducing the speed limit has been suggested. But that's not all.
The state proposes lowering the 45-mph speed limit during the day instead of just during the tourism season. State officials fear adopting a seasonal change would incur a false sense of security for those walking and/or driving in the area. Supposedly, any lowering of the limit might do that. But, still that doesn't address the high evening pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic.
The state suggests the borough hire a liaison officer to help control foot traffic on the bridge. But the bridge and South Tongass Highway belong to the state; it should be the state's responsibility to hire and supervise an officer.
Finally, the state envisions pedestrians in a right-of-way near the bridge wearing safety vests. That's a picture. Not only can the traffic/pedestrian movement at the cove be characterized as herding cats, but imagine making the cats wear little vests, too.
The problem at Herring Cove isn't likely to improve without mitigation. Herring Cove bears are becoming known as a premiere Ketchikan tourist attraction.
The cove needs a bear-viewing platform as other bear-watching attractions provide in others areas of the state. That also requires a parking lot or organized parking, which would prevent motor vehicles parking wherever a spot can be found — some of those spots and getting in and out of them increase traffic hazards. Then, a path should be built from the parking lot to the platform. Rules should be established as to how pedestrian traffic flows between the platform and parking.
But to come to any solution both the borough and the state have to really want to.