By Melinda Munson
Even after the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) made temporary repairs to the Dyea Road following the December 2020 rains storms, declared a disaster by President Trump, locals joke about strapping on sports bras and jockstraps before attempting to travel the only road into Skagway
Assemblymember Orion Hanson isn’t laughing.
“I find that to be a very dangerous scenario,” he said, noting that in some areas, four to five feet of the road have disappeared, turning an already narrow two lane road into one lane.
“Some of those temporary concrete barriers are listing and about to just topple into the ocean,” Hanson said.
As the tourist season nears, concerns grow.
“For locals, we understand how to drive the road,” Hanson said, although he noted residents have experienced severe vehicle damage due to road conditions.
Hanson worries that inexperienced tourists and tour buses, travelling both directions on the compromised roads, could result in injuries or worse.
He urged the municipality to send a letter to the DOT&PF at the May 20 assembly meeting, asking the department to start the engineering process immediately. DOT&PF received the letter, but its answer was a “disappointment” to Hanson.
“We appreciate your request for the Dyea Road work to be performed before cruise ship-related traffic returns, but due to the complexity of work, DOT&PF cannot commit to making permanent repairs by May 1, 2022,” said a June 3 letter from D. Lance Mearig, regional director.
“I assure you that Dyea Road is on the front burner, and DOT&PF is striving to complete each step of the process carefully and expeditiously.”
Mearig stated that construction work would “commence as early as possible after the winter of 2021-2022.”
“I’m perplexed, completely perplexed why this is being postponed for a year,” Orion said.