Powerhouse Road

A cluster of mailboxes lines a section of gravel road on Wednesday at the corner of Power House Road and South Tongass Highway. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Residents in the areas of Old Dairy Road, Powerhouse Road and Milky Way Road, south of Ketchikan, recently received notices from the U.S. Postal Service that, as of July 28, mail would no longer be delivered to addresses on those streets “due to road conditions.”

In the notices, surfaces “unsafe for our vehicles with all of the potholes” were noted at those location. Also explained, in the notice for Old Dairy and Milky Way, was that due to the potholes, “the carrier cannot drive on the wrong side of the road to miss them, as it is a safety issue.”

In a phone Friday phone call to Ketchikan Post Office Supervisor Shannon Self, she said that delivery drivers assess road conditions daily and report back when roads deemed unsafe for travel are repaired and are again ready for mail delivery.

The Alaska Department of Transportation is responsible for maintenance of Powerhouse Road, said DOT Project Foreman James Stickel via a phone interview Thursday morning. He also said a road grader had been dispatched to repair the road’s surface that morning.

He added that while the grader is there some repair to turnouts on the road and the shoulders also would be completed.

In a call, also on Thursday morning, Ketchikan Gateway Borough Public Works Director Alex Peura said that the Old Dairy Road area recently was made a service area and that the borough now is responsible for maintenance.

Work to improve Old Dairy Road, which is just south of the road leading to Fawn Mountain Elementary School, was begun on July 20, Peura said, and is slated to be completed in the next week.

Also noted in both Postal Service notices was that residents, while mail delivery was on hold, could pick up their mail at the main post office, located more than 10 miles distant from Powerhouse Road.

John Clifton, a resident who lives a bit south of Powerhouse Road, and who normally picks up his mail at a box at that road, on Thursday morning via telephone, shared his experiences since receiving the notice.

He mentioned three difficulties with picking his mail up at the main post office.

The first was the more than 20-mile round-trip drive to that facility every day. The second was the fact that as an older resident, he was not comfortable with having to unnecessarily spend time inside a public building in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third was that he also had problems with getting checks from renters in a timely manner with the mail delivery on hiatus.

Of the Old Dairy Road project, Peura said, “the construction’s ongoing, but they’re always keeping one lane open for traffic up and down the road,” adding that the road “will be 100% better than it ever has been.”