Representative Sam Kito III visited Skagway earlier this month and he says he learned about some local issues which he hopes to help with.
Kito is a Democrat in the Alaska House representing Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan, Gustavus and Excursion Inlet.
Kito says pedestrian safety in general, and specifically on State St., was one concern he heard about from Skagway residents.
“There is a very active local discussion about crosswalks on State St. and the location of those crosswalks,” Kito said.
The State Department of Transportation is planning a repaving of State St. in 2017. Some Skagway residents have petitioned for DOT to paint a crosswalk on State and Sixth before the repaving happens.
Kito says he plans to work with DOT as they go through the design phase of the renovation project, to make sure pedestrian safety is considered.
The draft winter ferry schedule for the Alaska Marine Highway is another area of concern for Skagway residents. Kito says he did not submit any of his own comments on the marine highway’s proposed winter schedule. He says he is working with DOT on the overarching issue of sustainable funding for ferries.
“I do believe that the marine highway system should be able to identify some operational efficiencies to decreases costs,” Kito said. “They can look at their fare structure and find ways to increase revenues. They should be able to do that, if they do it carefully, without decreasing the amount of ridership.”
Kito also heard concerns from members of the Skagway Traditional Council. He says the council is trying to protect some early Native graves in Dyea from Taiya River erosion.
“So we’re working to try and to initiate contact with the Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Park Service to see about if there’s a way we can assist in making sure protection of those graves, or possibly working with the community and the elders to see if there’s a suitable relocation area for those graves.”
Overall, Kito says he feels Skagway is doing a good a job of addressing local issues. Kito is planning a visit to Haines and Klukwan on August 11th and 12th.