A safer walk to school is just around the corner for Haines students.
The Alaska Department of Transportation is proposing to build a new sidewalk running along the north side of Old Haines Highway from Third Avenue to Allen Road next year.
As proposed, the 5-foot sidewalk would be raised, with 1,700 feet of curb and gutter. It would also involve construction of commercial driveway entrances and curb cuts near the school.
The Haines Borough Planning Commission raised questions about the project during its Nov. 8 meeting, including how snow would be removed from the sidewalk and who would be responsible for removing it.
Borough manager Mark Earnest said the state would be responsible for plowing the sidewalk, although whether it would be diligent about doing so is uncertain.
Commissioner Robert Venables suggested a paved shoulder instead of a raised sidewalk since it would not need to be plowed separately but could be done at the same time as the road. A paved shoulder would be “much more practical” and would create “a safe walking area right away rather than waiting for something that’s not going to happen,” Venables said.
After the meeting, Earnest said a raised sidewalk would be preferable, assuming reliable winter maintenance by the state.
In addition to suggesting the paved shoulder and questioning the maintenance issue, the commission also discussed whether drainage would be adequate considering the swamp on the south side of the road. Commissioner Don Turner also requested additional school caution lights be added along the corridor.
“This is something that we’ve been working hard to get. The borough has been supporting this project very heavily” because of its close alignment with the borough’s Safe Routes to School program, Earnest said.
The borough is also planning to work with the Chilkoot Indian Association toward a trail system connecting the school and the Chilkoot Estates Subdivision.
The state requested the borough respond with comments to the proposal by Nov. 26.