A detour has been set up to bypass the section of Front Street affected by the failing culverts. (Henry Leasia / KHNS)

Haines drivers may have noticed a new obstacle in their path while driving along the harbor.

A section of Front Street has been closed due to a faulty culvert creating a sinkhole. A makeshift detour through the harbor parking lot has been laid out to bypass the affected area.  At a meeting last week, the borough contracted Southeast Road Builders to replace the culverts beneath Front Street and the west end of Tlingit Park. 

Public Facilities Director Brad Ryan said the culverts running under Front Street and Tlingit Park are old and failing. The metal is getting rusty, and holes are starting to form.

“Some of that is due to the root structure from the trees and stuff sticking through. We ran a camera down there and you can see roots poking through the culvert,” Ryan said.

One failing culvert runs from a storm drain near the top of the northern stairs entering Tlingit Park to the newly installed catch basin in the harbor parking lot. On the West Side of Front Street, the catch basin that ties the culverts together is failing as well.

The culverts are now undermining stability beneath the asphalt, causing a sinkhole. They will need to be replaced.

Ryan said the borough closed a portion of the road after a recent heavy rain.

“Our concern is, we don’t know, but we’re concerned that there’s material missing under the main roadbed. We just don’t want a vehicle to go across and then fall into the culvert. This culvert has failed to the degree that, it’s just pulling material all the time out of there. Every time we dig it up to monitor, we do more damage to the culvert, and we don’t want to do that either,” Ryan said.

The culvert replacement project will require demolition of the stairs accessing Tlingit Park and removal of part of the asphalt and sidewalk on Front Street.

At a borough assembly meeting last week, Southeast Road Builders was contracted to carry out the job. It was the only company to put in a bid for the contract. The borough agreed to pay up to $162,000 for the project.

According to the contract, the culverts and catch basins will need to be replaced by October 31st. Ryan says afterward a gravel passage will be used for the road and sidewalk. In the Spring, the crew will return to pave the road, replace the sidewalk and rebuild the stairs to Tlingit Park.