SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Forest Highway 43 project completed


October 23, 2015
Friday AM

(SitNews) Thorne Bay, Alaska - Multiple projects reconstructed 23 miles of one-lane gravel to a two-lane asphalt road—improving traffic safety and significantly shortening travel times on Prince of Wales Island. In the past, it took four hours to travel from Whale Pass to Thorne Bay. Now the trip takes two hours. The 12- mile section from Coffman Cove to Sarkar Bridge was completed in September.

jpg Forest Highway 43 project completed

The Tongass Forest Highway 43 (Prince of Wales Road) gravel road was upgraded and realigned to a two-lane paved highway with a 35 mph design speed to improve safety.

“The Forest Service with the assistance of their design consultant, DOWL LLC, designed and provided contract administration for Southeast Roadbuilders, who is a local contractor,” said Engineering Staff Officer David Morton. “Positive economic impacts beyond local jobs during the construction phase are increased transportation opportunities for the POW communities and access to forest resources. The project also aided a hydroelectric power transmission line to be installed to the remote community of Naukati, reducing their electric rates by over half.”

“Completion of this project provides safe, reliable road access for the residents of Whale Pass and visitors”, said Thorne Bay District Ranger Rachelle Huddleston-Lorton. “In addition, it helps implement island-wide goals of increasing tourism and visitor opportunities”.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, this project significantly increases the ability of motorists to safely and easily access the roads leading to the communities of Naukati and Whale Pass. The new highway provides a smooth asphalt surface free of the potholes that used to plague the motorists of north Prince of Wales Island. In addition, new safety features like new bridge rail, guardrail, longer sight distances, and clear zones designed to modern highway standards dramatically reduce the risk that drivers used to face.

Although deer, bears, and other wildlife are still prevalent along the roadside, drivers should now able to see them well in advance and have time and space to maneuver their vehicles safely.

Whenever the road crossed a fish bearing stream, modern fish passage design and construction methods were employed to ensure access to upstream spawning and rearing habitat.

The roadside enhancement project at Sarkar Lake was constructed as part of this project. The enhancement improved the canoe launch, constructed a trail down to a popular fishing area, and provides a shelter with a gorgeous view of the many islands of Sarkar Lake.

After the project's completion, road right-of-way and maintenance responsibilities were transferred to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


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