The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly's actions last month to raise awareness of potential safety issues along North Point Higgins Road have caught the attention of the state Department of Transportation, Borough Mayor Rodney Dial announced on Monday.

Though the state won't install the safety measures suggested by the Assembly, it will install a sign to help address the problem, and it's offering to help if the borough chooses to install other safety measures.

Dial said that he plans to meet with the DOT commissioner on Thursday to discuss community traffic safety issues and the state's progress on local traffic projects.

At the Assembly's Dec. 6 regular meeting, the Assembly unanimously approved a request from citizen John Harrington to authorize the borough mayor to ask DOT to install safety measures along North Point Higgins Road to help enforce the 25 mph speed limit there.

Though there are signs in the area noticing the speed limit, Harrington said, many cars inadvertently ignore the limit as they turn onto the road from North Tongass Highway, where the speed limit is 55 mph. His draft letter to the department, which the borough mayor signed and sent to DOT on behalf of the borough, suggested installing a radar speeding sign or flashing lights along the road to help reduce speeding.

As North Point Higgins Road is not in a service area, DOT is responsible for installing and maintaining traffic safety equipment along the road.

DOT Commissioner Ryan Anderson responded to the letter with a letter of his own, dated Dec. 21, that the borough received on Dec. 27. In it, Anderson acknowledged the safety concerns along North Point Higgins Road while noting that the road currently meets state traffic safety standards.

"Southcoast Region engineering, operations and maintenance staff reviewed the roadway, and found that the corridor currently has pedestrian safety features such as paved shoulders and a raised sidewalk along one side of the entire length of road from North Tongass Highway to the elementary school, along with seven regulatory speed limit signs that appear to be readily visible and meet current standards," Anderson explained in his response. "Our records did not indicate a collision history or other safety data that would make modifications to North Point Higgins Road eligible for safety funding, but the local observations in your letter warrant consideration."

To assist with speed limit enforcement, he wrote, the state will install a "low-cost" reflective yellow warning sign above the first speed limit sign off North Tongass Highway.

Adding flashing red lights above the sign is not allowed under the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the standard to which DOT adheres, he explained.

"We would also like to partner with (the Ketchikan Gateway Borough) on further reinforcing speed limits within this corridor with radar feedback signs," Anderson wrote. "While we have limited funding for sign installations, we are able to assist with identifying locations and features of the signs. We recently completed a partnership with the City of Ketchikan in a similar assistance capacity, and that partnership was successful. If that interests you, please feel free to have your staff contact the Southcoast Region staff copied below who can provide assistance."

Anderson's letter added that "it would be great to get together in early January to meet in person if you are available. I'm planning a trip to Ketchikan during that timeframe."

Dial on Monday said it was "incredible" that the borough received such a quick response from the state, and told the Assembly that he will meet with the commissioner "to get some updates on borough road and transportation projects, ... to ask that those potholes that we see getting developed all across town already, that hopefully we get those fixed earlier (rather) than later."

Borough Manager Ruben Duran in a Tuesday phone interview said the borough hadn't yet acted on the state's offer to help with radar speed signs. He signaled interest in installing a radar sign, but noted that the borough does not have road powers and thus would have to rely on its other powers to justify the work.

He said the borough attorney and borough public works director would review the work to determine if it fell within the borough's powers.

"We'll have to take a look at that. You know, the challenge we always have is the road power issue. But if we can ... find a way of getting these things done, we'd like to do it," he said. "That's one of the challenges of the way we are structured here. We want to do things, and sometimes we're unable to."