Haines Highway project ends for the year


November 5, 2020

The Haines Highway reconstruction project wrapped up last week, days before 16 inches of snow piled up and after about a month of work on the project.

Work was delayed until October due to right-of-way disputes, including one with an 18-Mile property owner whose 4.6 acres of land the state said it needed to make the realignment compliant with highway standards.

The dispute was resolved in court in March when the state was awarded title to the property. “The state initiated condemnation proceedings to obtain title to the property needed for the project and the court awarded the state possession and title,” project manager Heidi Fredrickson said.

The state takeover of private property is known as eminent domain. Alaska law gives the federal government, the state and municipalities the right of eminent domain as long as three conditions are met: the use is lawful, the taking of the private property is necessary to the use, and the public’s greater good is of more value than the private use.

Although the government has the right to acquire private property for public use, compensation at fair market value is required by law.

Another right-of-way issue is still in process with Klukwan. The details of that dispute is unclear.

The reconstruction project includes realignment of the highway, widening shoulders, grading, paving, landslide mitigation and drainage improvements from Mile 12 to 20.

“We do have some debris flows at Mile 17 and have some large pipes at Mile 17 to accommodate debris flows, however those haven’t been constructed yet,” project environmental coordinator Jim Scholl said. “The contractor has another year and a half.”

Work began in October where SECON and subcontractor Southeast Roadbuilders installed a large fish pipe and worked on fish channel reconstruction at 17.5 Mile.

Workers also planned for next year’s work.

“In order to produce the rock for the project, we need to create access for equipment,” Fredrickson said. “Next year, the project will include blasting work and we needed to pioneer our way to the top of the rock alongside the road for access.”

Work will begin again in March 2021 to continue phase two of the project and will continue into September 2022, Fredrickson said.

Phase three, reconstruction from 20 to 25 Mile including the Wells Bridge, is also slated for future work.

ADOT and the contractor were required to follow state-mandated COVID-19 virus mitigation plans including web-based meetings and maintaining the same crew members working together on the project.


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