Harbor Mountain Road in Sitka is open again after a long closure. Starting Friday, 6-26-15, vehicles and pedestrians will have full access to the recreation area and trailhead at the top of the mountain.
A washout in January rendered the road unsafe for vehicle travel. Recent repair work caused the Forest Service to briefly close the road to even foot and bicycle traffic.
“It was along the lines of 46 dump truck loads that had to be put on there to get the road back to a driveable situation,” said Sitka District Ranger Perry Edwards.
Harbor Mountain Road receives heavy traffic, especially in the summer months. The road provides great views on cloudless days, and also connects to the Harbor Mountain/Gavan Hill trail system. It’s also the finish line of the Sitka’s Alpine Adventure Run.
“I’m very happy that race, which I believe will occur on July 18 will go off without a hitch so far as being able to access the top,” he said.
Edwards says projects of this magnitude usually cost between $15,000 and $100,000 — but he didn’t know the final tab for this particular repair.
Edwards also says because of the softer rock on Harbor Mountain — called glacial till — similar washouts may happen again in the future.
“It’s just bound to happen. It’s just a matter of where, and just a matter of when,” he said. “We have done the best we can with the funding we have to set that up to minimize potential, but potential is always going to be there.”
He says Forest Service roads take a lot of money to maintain and sometimes it comes down to deciding which roads are and are not worth the cost of keeping, but keeping Harbor Mountain open is at the top of his list.