Indian River pedestrian bridge to close on May 8 through mid-August for construction project

Construction to replace the Indian River pedestrian bridge in Sitka National Historical Park will begin Monday, May 8. Cross-park foot traffic will be closed through mid-August. Signs and maps will direct pedestrians around the park during construction. The detour will be through the Sitka Fine Arts Campus to Sawmill Creek Road. Detour maps are available at the park’s visitor’s center or the Russian Bishop’s House information desks.

The existing foot bridge is now 50 years old and is beginning to show signs of deterioration. It is National Park Service policy to repair or replace infrastructure prior to the occurrence of any safety issues. The new bridge will assure that park visitors can safely cross Indian River for decades to come.

Site preparation begins on Monday, May 8. The actual removal and reconstruction of bridge components will start May 15 and continue until Aug. 15.

“The in-river work will be completed by July 15th to protect the mid-summer salmon run,” said Brinnen Carter, chief of resources. “Hopefully, all the work will be completed by then, but it is likely that the contractor will have above-water work to complete between July 15th and August 15th. We know that the bridge is a critical component of the community’s walking trails and we want it back in operation as soon as possible.”

The trail linking the park’s east and west sections across the river is heavily-used. Pedestrian traffic will be re-directed with signs and maps through the Sitka Fine Arts Campus and down Sawmill Creek Road until the new, wider bridge is in place.

The new bridge, designed with considerable public input, will retain the character of the existing bridge but be wider to provide easier passage and better wildlife viewing.

For more information about this work, please contact Angie Richman at 747-0132 or Mike Trainor at 747-0150.

Sitka National Historical Park starts Indian River Pedestrian Bridge and other projects for the season

Foot traffic on the trail linking the Sitka National Historical Park’s east and west sections across the Indian River pedestrian bridge will be restricted over the summer months as crews begin work to replace the almost 50-year-old foot bridge.

Access will be limited for periods of time from Wednesday, April 12, through Friday, April 14, as crews begin the project by clearing trees and brush in the construction zone near the bridge. This tree removal is being done by Saturday, April 15, before migratory birds may nest in the trees. A visual inspection of the trees to be removed has revealed no nests. Pedestrians should use caution during this as this work will be completed using heavy equipment

On May 8, the removal of the old bridge will begin, closing the cross-park trail completely at least until Aug. 15. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued a permit to allow in-water work to take place during this time. The bridge replacement project was delayed last summer when it was discovered the bridge would need new footings.

“We hope the work will result in minimum inconvenience for our many park visitors,” said Mike Trainor, Sitka National Historical Park Chief of Maintenance. “But all structures have a lifetime. For the long-term convenience and safety of cross-park traffic, the installation of a new bridge is necessary. And of course we are also mindful of the importance of Indian River as a salmon-bearing stream, so we will do everything possible for this work to pose a minimum disruption to that natural cycle of life.”

The new bridge will be similar in design and slightly wider to accommodate a larger number of visitors viewing the salmon runs while still allowing pedestrians and people walking their bikes to safely pass.

Park crews also will be engaged over the next several months in clearing selected understory and small trees over a half-acre between the park’s fort site and the shoreline. The goal is to help restore views from the fort site to the ocean to approximate the topography that existed during the Battle of 1804, the event that gave rise to the naming of park land as a national monument in 1910.

For more information about this work, please contact Angie Richman at 747-0132 or Mike Trainor at 747-0150.

Indian River Pedestrian Bridge replacement project delayed until 2017


SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignThe replacement of the Indian River Pedestrian Bridge through Sitka National Historical Park will be delayed until the spring or early summer of 2017. Original plans called for the removal of the bridge to begin Sept. 15, 2016. All project work has now been delayed until 2017.

During the installation of the water and salmon exclusion structures, issues were identified with the footings of the bridge that inhibit them from being reused for the new piers. These findings prevented the work in the river from being completed by the permitted July 15 date.

The bridge will remain in place and open until the construction resumes next year. Sitka National Historical Park will notify the public when more information becomes available.

For the most up-to-date information on the status of the project and bridge closures, please call the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center at 747-0110.

Indian River Bridge replacement project gets underway at Sitka National Historical Park


SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignIsland Enterprises, Inc., will begin Phase 1 work on Tuesday, June 15, for the replacement of the Indian River Pedestrian Bridge at Sitka National Historical Park. Phase 1 of this project will continue through July 15.

This is the first phase of a two-phase project. During this initial phase, Island Enterprises will install water and salmon exclusion structures in the river to prevent spawning salmon from being affected by the project during Phase 2, when the existing bridge will be removed and a replacement constructed. Phase 2, the actual removal of the bridge, will not take place until after Sept. 5.

Indian River Pedestrian Bridge Replacement Overview Poster_smallThis is a project jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the National Park Service to improve all types of transportation, including pedestrian modes. The bridge to be replaced was originally built in 1966 and has reached the end of its duty life. Inspections in 2008 and 2012 revealed the preliminary signs of structural weakness. Rather than let it continue to deteriorate, the NPS and FHWA scoped for and received funding to replace the bridge in the Park Service Centennial Year (2016). There also was a public comment period in 2014, where several bridge design options were presented for public review.

imageThe replacement bridge will be visually-similar to the current bridge, but will be two feet wider on the walking surface (growing from five feet wide to seven feet wide) and will be constructed to be more flood-resistant than the current bridge. It also will have a different decking system.

The public should expect intermittent closures of the pedestrian bridge and surrounding access trails between June 15 to July 15, and again after Sept. 5. For the most up-to-date information on the status of the project and bridge closures, please call the visitor center at 747-0110.

Assessing the walking safety of Katlian Street and other parts of Sitka


KatlianCurbCutMaryAnnPetersonPaulWistrandASSESSING SAFETY: Top photo: Paul Wistrand of the Federal Highway Authority’s Juneau office, left, and Mary Ann Peterson of the Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community project from the 2014 Sitka Health Summit assess the walking safety of Katlian Street on Wednesday, May 6. Right photo: Mary Ann Peterson shows Paul Wistrand how a curb cut is a tripping hazard on Katlian Street. The tour was part of a safety assessment conducted through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Safer People, Safer Streets” initiative. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx mandated federal, state and local communities do walking and cycling safety assessments, and Wistrand said they chose Sitka for Alaska’s first safety assessments. In addition to Wednesday’s walking safety assessment of Katlian Street, Wistrand also led a group of local and state officials on a walking assessment from downtown to the Alaska Raptor Center and a cycling assessment of Halibut Point Road on Thursday, May 7.

Federal Highway Administration to host two walking/biking safety assessment tours May 7 in Sitka

Pedestrian Bicycle Assessment Invitation for State and Local Partners

Paul Wistrand of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will lead two tours, one walking and one biking, to assess the safety of roads/pathways on Thursday, May 7, in Sitka. (NOTE: The schedule has been revised from what originally was published.)

“I’m looking forward to the bike/pedestrian safety assessment,” Wistrand wrote in an email. “It would be great to get a couple of bicyclists and/or walkers to join us in the assessment, and get their feedback and input into what bicycle and pedestrian features have had the greatest impact in the community.”

Walkers check out the Sitka Sea Walk during its October 2013 grand opening

Walkers check out the Sitka Sea Walk during its October 2013 grand opening

The walking safety assessment meets at Harrigan Centennial at 9 a.m., and after some introductory comments will include a the first segment of the hike along the Sitka Sea Walk to Sitka National Historical Park. The second segment of the hike will be to the Alaska Raptor Center, before participants return to Harrigan Centennial Hall and a lunch break. After lunch, participants will meet back at Harrigan Centennial Hall to mount bicycles for a bike tour along Halibut Point Road to Pioneer Park (near Sea Mart) and back. After each tour segment, participants will complete a short evaluation form. Maps are part of the first attachment linked below.

“The assessment will be a great way to get end users and officials from local, state and federal levels who are involved with bicycle and pedestrian facilities together,” Wistrand wrote. “It’s also a chance to highlight the many improvements to these facilities in Sitka that have contributed to Sitka’s twice being recognized as a bronze-level bike/walk friendly community.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announces the Safer People, Safer Streets Initiative during the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place convention in September 2014.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announces the Safer People, Safer Streets Initiative during the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place convention in September 2014.

These safety assessments are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Safer People, Safer Streets” initiative, where Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx mandated USDOT field offices to partner with state and local communities to do corridor-level safety assessments. One of the reasons for these tours is to help transportation planners, state and local officials, and others learn more about some of the challenges faced by non-motorized transportation users. The safety assessment tours are free and open to the public.

In addition to the publicly announced safety assessments, federal, state and local representatives will be walking and biking other parts of Sitka to rate those areas. One of the additional walking assessments will be of Katlian Street and interested participants can meet with Paul at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, at the Totem Square Inn hotel lobby.

For more information and to RSVP for the free tours, contact Paul Wistrand at 1-907-586-7148 or

• Sitka Bike and Pedestrian Assessment Invitation

• Revised Sitka walking and biking safety assessment schedule

• Sample Sitka walking and biking assessment scoresheet

• Safer People, Safer Streets Iniatiative

Comment period closes Nov. 15 for Indian River pedestrian bridge replacement options at Sitka National Historical Park

Indian River Pedestrian Bridge Replacement Overview Poster_small

The Sitka National Historical Park has posted the potential alternatives for the replacement of the Indian River Pedestrian Bridge in the park visitors center.

Public input on the presented designs will have substantial influence on which design will become the preferred alternative in the Environmental Assessment (EA) under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis. The public is invited to the park through Saturday, Nov. 15, to provide comments on site. The park visitors center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The Indian River Pedestrian Bridge Project is being designed by the Federal Highway Administration with substantial National Park Service input and guidance. The purpose of this project is to maintain safe pedestrian, bicycle, and other non-motorized vehicle access across the Indian River within Sitka National Historical Park.

Although still safe, the current bridge is nearing the end of its 50-year design life and needs to be replaced to maintain this access and to address accessibility and bridge design standards that have changed since the time of the current bridge’s construction.

Individuals wishing to send written comments may e-mail them to Sitka National Historical Park Chief of Resources Brinnen Carter at Photos of some of the alternatives are posted in a slideshow below, but there are full-size posters of the options at the park’s visitors center with information about trail width, cost, construction materials, and more.

• Indian River Pedestrian Bridge Replacement Project Fact Sheet

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