Mud Bay residents create parking spaces


Melina Shields and other residents who live across Mud Bay have faced a big-city problem in a decidedly rural area: where to parallel park their trucks and cars off the public right-of-way.

State Department of Transportation officials say parking along the road blocked snow removal equipment and posed a safety hazard.

A handful of residents got together and did something: for several weekends, they gathered like Amish barn-raisers, taking measurements from the edge of the pavement to the cliff-side. They used rakes and shovels to clear bush, move dirt and create small parking places at least eight feet from the edge of the pavement.

DOT officials say they are happy with the results for now.

“Kudos to the residents of Mud Bay for taking immediate action when we pointed out the problem,” said Jeremy Woodrow, a DOT spokesman in Juneau. “This has been a long-term issue and they worked toward a solution. Residents said ‘Let’s make this happen.’ They did it sooner than later. It’s a great interim solution.”

Shields, who has lived at Mud Bay for five years with her husband, Tim Hockin, was happy to hear that the DOT was happy.

“I’m thrilled,” she said.

Over the last few months, most Mud Bay residents assisted on the project. In the end, they pooled their manpower and resources to buy gravel and rent earth-moving equipment to make room for at least 15 cars.

“It ended up costing about $130 a car,” said Shields. “It was super-reasonable.”

Woodrow said, the number of cars along the road became overbearing. “One or two is not a big deal, but not this many,” he said. “Some property owners made the effort to keep their cars safe while others just parked along the side of the road.”

Haines Department of Transportation foreman Matt Boron said the road was not designed for off-street parking. “It’s risky, if people swing open the doors of their cars,” he said. “It’s a very narrow road, with just enough room for two lanes of traffic.”

On Tuesday, Boron visited the site and took pictures, which he sent to officials in Juneau. Woodrow said those photographs were used in making his assessment of the roadwork.

For her part, Shields is glad the work is done. “It was manual labor, man,” she said.

Now there’s space for residents like Shields and Hockin to park their vehicles out of harm’s way.

“For years, we drove a string of really old Toyota pickups. Now we drive a really old Jetta and Suburban,” Shields said.

Woodrow wasn’t sure when the state would revisit the Mud Bay Road parking issue. Officials would still like to see a public parking lot constructed on the beach side of the road.

“In a perfect world, the borough and residents would make an effort to build a parking lot,” Woodrow said, describing the recent work as an “interim solution.”


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