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11/20/2019
On course

Highway work is moving along in Ketchikan.

The Alaska Department of Transportation is on schedule for South Tongass Highway rehabilitation. The rehabilitation project is to improve the traffic experience from Deermount Street to Surf Street, which is about three miles out of downtown. It will affect motor vehicles as well as bicycles and pedestrians.

The project’s design, which started in 2016 about the same time the state met with South Tongass residents, is continuing, while the right-of-way phase is set for this winter. Construction is still on schedule for the middle of 2021.

The state issued its 2019 Project Update earlier this month. In addition to the highway, the project will involve new and relocated sewer and water utilities, retaining walls and a continuous pedestrian pathway through Saxman. The pathway is the Joseph C. Williams Sr., Coastal Trail.

The project is expected to result in improved visibility as realignment takes place in some sections. Guardrails, handrails and chain-link fencing also is likely to be replaced.

This past year, the state engineered solutions to minimize rockslides by steep cliffs along this section of the highway.

With the Deermount Street to the tunnel state project completed this year, it indicates what South Tongass has ahead of it. The South Tongass section will result in the highway being upgraded from the tunnel all the way to Surf Street.

This project is needed and, like the downtown project, will be greatly appreciated upon completion.