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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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