Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Chilkoot road improvements could begin this summer


July 2, 2020

The Chilkoot Corridor road improvement project could begin as soon as mid-August, according to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

The roughly $1.4 million project had been scheduled to begin after this year’s cruise ship season, with the potential for work to continue into the spring, but the timeline may be moved up as a result of COVID-19 shutting down cruise travel.

“(The project) might be bumped up a little sooner, depending on contractor availability, since there is very light activity out there compared to normal years,” Division of Parks superintendent for the Southeast region Preston Kroes said. The division is currently soliciting bids for the project.

The goal is to improve safety and traffic flow in the area, Kroes said. “We’ve known the whole bear viewing congestion issue has needed attention for years.”

Project improvements include leveling and repaving the road, improving drainage, installing bear viewing platforms, creating designated parking and commercial vehicle drop-off areas, and constructing a pedestrian pathway to keep people off the road.

Aside from a two- to four-day closure for paving, most of the work will be accomplished while keeping the Chilkoot Corridor open to vehicles, Kroes said. The road may be narrowed to a single lane at times, and the department may decide to close the campground during construction to limit traffic.

Planning for the project began in 2011. Kroes said it’s by far the biggest project the Division of Parks is taking on this year. The project is funded through a combination of state capital improvement funds and a federal match.

The division plans to send out a press release once a contractor has been selected and a work timeline set. The paving closure will be publicized at least 20 days in advance.


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