Posts Tagged ‘Keith Karpstein’

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will host a public meeting from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to discuss a proposed project on Halibut Point Road.

According to the public notice from DOT, the original project plan was completed in August 2011. But recently concerns have been raised by Sitka resident Harvey Brandt and others about whether or not there are adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities along the road. DOT said it already has made some revisions to its plan by adding pedestrian facilities to the Granite Creek and No Name Creek bridges, but it also said funds were limited for this project and some bike/walk concerns might not be addressed until a future project.

The following is part of an e-mail from DOT SE Region Engineering Manager Keith Karpstein (465-1796).

Thank you all for your comments related to the proposed improvements planned for Halibut Point Road (HPR). I apologize for the late response, but it has taken me longer than expected to track down the necessary information in order to respond.

Most of your comments expressed concerns regarding the lack of pedestrian facilities along HPR from SeaMart to the Starrigaven Campground. Although we do recognize the need for these facilities, these improvements are not included in the scope of work for the upcoming project scheduled to begin construction in the summer of 2012. We have two things to contend with, budget and schedule. The funding currently programmed for this project does not include those improvements and additional funding would have to be secured. As for timing, including those improvements at this time would require that we develop a preliminary design and complete a new environmental document, which may take up to one year. Our construction funding must be obligated by the end of this federal fiscal year, which requires us to have the project ready to advertise by the end of August. If we are not able to obligate the construction funding by that time, we are at risk of losing the funds to another project that is “shovel” ready. That is not a risk we are willing to take for the community, or region as a whole. We are, however, able to include pedestrian facilities across Granite Creek and No Name Creek bridges to accommodate future pedestrian facilities along the road.

In addition, since we do recognize the need for pedestrian facilities along HPR, we are developing a project scope and cost estimates that could assist in a future project nomination. A project of this type would have our support.

Some commenters also expressed maintenance concerns along Halibut Point road; this project includes improvements to address those concerns. These improvements include paving beneath the guardrail to minimize vegetation growth; providing pavement aprons at all driveways to minimize gravel track-out onto the shoulder; replacing guardrail to meet current standards; installing safety end terminals on all guardrail ends where required; and repairing the subgrade at several locations where the pavement has settled. Drainage improvements are also included within the scope of the upcoming project.

To clarify this information and to answer any questions you have, I am planning on having a public workshop on January 18, 2011 at Centennial Hall from 5 pm to 8 pm. This is a great opportunity for us to hear from all of you who drive, bike, and walk this road every day. I look forward to meeting you and working with you on our upcoming projects.

The project will start at the roundabout in downtown Sitka and follow 7.3 miles of Halibut Point Road to the end of existing pavement at Starrigavan Bay Campground. The plan is to repave the road, while also repairing or replacing existing sidewalks, culverts, storm drains, guardrail, and other roadside features. It also will replace the Granite Creek and No Name Creek bridges, and it will add or relocate bus pullouts.

The meeting will be in an open house format, with the first part used to give people time to find out more about the project by looking at charts and maps. The main part of the meeting will start after people have had time to review the displays. DOT staff will be available to discuss the project, answer questions and take public/written comments.

• Public notice about Halibut Point Road improvements workshop on Jan. 18

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Bicyclists and walkers enjoy trips along Halibut Point Road because of the scenic views, such as this fishing boat and some of Sitka's barrier islands.

Bicyclists and walkers enjoy trips along Halibut Point Road because of the scenic views, such as this fishing boat and some of Sitka's barrier islands.

During the Nov. 17, 2011, meeting of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, Sitka resident Harvey Brandt made a presentation about an upcoming state Department of Transportation project to repave Halibut Point Road.

Included in Harvey’s presentation was a letter he wrote to engineering manager Keith Karpstein (a former Sitka resident) who is the project manager. In the letter, Harvey made a plea for better bicycle and walking sidepaths along HPR, since the road receives a lot of use by cyclists and walkers. He also presented a letter to Sitka residents encouraging them to contact Karpstein and the Alaska DOT to put the pressure on them to make sure the project includes better walking and biking infrastructure.

According to Marie Heidemann, the Southeast Regional Non-Motorized Planner for DOT, the project is almost finalized and she isn’t sure how many changes can be made. If people are going to contact DOT about this road, please do so now (supposedly there is a staff meeting on Monday, Nov. 28, when this project will be discussed).

During the Nov. 17 Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting we mentioned several issues with the road, such as kids from Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary crossing HPR at Peterson to get to the McDonald’s, narrow and unmaintained road shoulders, no bike lanes on the bridges, etc. The more personal-experience issues you can mention about biking and walking on HPR the better.

Here is Harvey’s letter to Sitka residents about the project.


Next summer a $17 million improvement project is scheduled for Halibut Point Road – Two new bridges, paving, etc. is currently scheduled for 2012.

HPR is far more than a state highway.  It is a busy bicycle and pedestrian traffic corridor.   You have probably noticed mothers with babies, kids and their beach toys (near Sandy Beach) walking & dodging cars on this busy road.   This pedestrian/bicycle traffic is busier in the summer, but there are still walkers/bikers on those dark winter days all along this road from  SeaMart to the Ferry Terminal.  

What Can Be Done to Improve the Current HP Highway?

Here are some possibilities that would make a difference:

  1. Do a pedestrian traffic survey of HPR
  2. Widen the paved area of the  highway (on both sides) at least 3 feet to create a safer walkway/bicycling zone.  If necessary – move guard rails out a few feet to allow for this widening of paved area of road.
  3. Pave underneath guard rails so we don’t have a hedge of alders, terrace of sand that pools water on the highway
  4. CONSTRUCT a sidewalk/bike path (similar to Sawmill Crk)  from Pioneer Park to Sandy Beach – AND, make specific plans to continue  this sidewalk/bikeway path to HP Rec Area in the future
  5. Safe pedestrian bridges on BOTH sides of BOTH new bridges.
  6. Pave AND maintain highway to driveway transitions so bicyclers and walkers can travel safely past driveways – (no chuckholes).

If you agree please include these six points in a letter or e-mail to:

Keith Karpstein, P. E.

Engineering Manager

State of Alaska DOT & PF,

SE Region

6860 Glacier Hwy

Juneau, AK  99801-7999




A more family-friendly, pedestrian/biker-friendly HPR would be energy-efficient, safer and an economic asset for Sitka.   Please contact  Keith Karpstein if you wish to express your support for these improvements.

Here are the meeting minutes from the Nov. 17, meeting of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition and Harvey’s three handouts.

• Minutes from the Nov. 17, 2011, Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting

• Harvey Brandt’s letter to Sitka residents about the Halibut Point Road project

• Harvey Brandt’s letter to Keith Karpstein of the Alaska DOT about the project

• Harvey Brandt’s list of contacts and notes about the Halibut Point Road project



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