CONSTRUCTION JOBS THIS SUMMER ON BARANOF ISLAND
A nine-mile gravel road up one side of Katlian Bay near Sitka will finally be under construction this summer. It’s one of the first big “open for business” road projects of the Dunleavy Administration, after four years of “no-build” state management.
A $31.7 million bid was tentatively awarded by the Department of Transportation this month to K&E Alaska, an Oregon-based excavation firm with an office in Sitka. The final bid award would come after a 10-day protest period is completed.
The road project on Baranof Island is described as a single-lane, unpaved road with bridge crossings, beginning at the northern end of Halibut Point Road, extending east along the south shoreline of Katlian Bay, crossing the Katlian River, and ending four miles east of the Katlian Bay estuary at the boundary between Shee Atika and U.S. Forest Service Lands.
The project opens up territory for subsistence and recreation, and also gets close to Shee Atika Native coporation lands for future development. It will end at a turnaround that meets up with an existing Forest Service trail. Ultimately, it could link to a road to Rodman Bay, allowing transportation vessels to avoid Peril Strait, which is only usable at high tide.
But for now, it’s a road to resources and recreation. The Katlain River, which the project would bridge, is rich in salmon, dolly Varden, steelhead, and trout, and Shee Atika land is rich in timber.
Alaska voters approved the funding in November 2012, as part of the $454-million transportation projects bonds ballot question, which contained authority to borrow for transit projects statewide. The original estimate was for around $16 million. The remainder of the money for the project is coming from a Fairbanks project that was federalized, leaving money available to shift to the Katlian Bay project.
Dozens of construction jobs will be associated with the project on Baranof Island, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2018, but which had been put on hold by the Walker Administration.