The Klehini River Bridge on the Porcupine Trail off the Haines Highway is about a half-century old and showing its wear. But by late next summer, the bridge will be replaced with a new structure. The project has been in the works since 2011.
Jeremy Woodrow is the spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He said Thursday that the bridge, as it stands now, is still safe.
“We have a bridge-inspection program, it’s actually part of a national program,” Woodrow said. “We inspect every single one of the state’s bridges every two years. And then when a bridge starts to get to point where it’s deteriorating, we will inspect it more regularly than every two years, if we think that it’s necessary to do so. But, if a bridge was ever deemed unusable or unsafe, we would close it down.”
The original bridge, called the Brotherhood Bridge, spanned the Mendenhall River in the early ‘60s in Juneau before it was relocated to its current spot north of Haines. The replacement project is estimated to cost between $5 and $10 million for construction. More than 90 percent of that money will come from the Federal Highway Administration, while the remaining 9 percent will come from a state appropriation.
The impact on traffic is not yet known, but Woodrow said it’s possible that a replacement bridge will be erected to avoid closures or long delays.
The project will go out to bid this spring, with the completion date tentatively set for the late summer, 2017. Construction is expected to start this fall.