One of Skagway’s main thoroughfares will undergo a major renovation starting next summer.
The Alaska Department of Transportation is planning a $10 million rehabilitation of State Street.
Over the summers of 2018 and 2019, DOT will resurface and repair 1.3 miles of road, stretching from Point Street to the Skagway River Bridge. State Street connects to the Klondike Highway after the bridge.
DOT project manager David Pyeatt says the project was initially going to be an overlay to patch up holes and smooth out the street.
“But then when we did the scoping, we went out and looked at it. And the sidewalk was kind of in tough shape, there were a lot of drainage problems and stuff like that,” Pyeatt said. “So we went back to the Federales to secure more funding. So we’re doing the sidewalks and fixing the drainage as well making sure the sidewalks are ADA compliant now.”
The project is 90 percent federally-funded. DOT officials held a public meeting in Skagway recently to talk to people about the project and the inevitable disruptions it will cause.
“During construction, there’ll be two-way one-way traffic on State Street,” Pyeatt said. “And we really are concerned about big buses and ore trucks going to the streets on either side, I think that’s Alaska and Broadway. So that’s why we’re going to try to keep that traffic on State Street, ‘cause those trucks are too heavy for the structural section of those other roads.”
To allow the heavy trucks to stay on State, DOT will close down just one lane at a time. That means traffic will take turns driving through on the other lane.
“We did a trial run because we were doing geotechnical work out there this summer, and it didn’t cause horrendous delays or anything,” Pyeatt said. “But yeah, to replace the road, there’s gonna be some challenges for everyone.”
Pyeatt says DOT knows it’s not ideal for the work to coincide with Skagway’s busy tourism season. But asphalt paving requires warmer temperatures.
The Skagway municipality is taking advantage of the road project to do its own water and sewer utility upgrades under State Street.
The work will begin in summer of 2018, on the about nine-block stretch between Point and 8th streets. In the meantime, DOT is taking public comments on the State Street plans until July 30.
The Assembly Civic Affairs committee is set to talk about future traffic flow issues at a meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. The State Street project will be part of the discussion.