Coastal Excavation LLC is replacing an old water main beneath Jeff Davis Street. The northern half of the street was modified in the fall, while the southern half will get the same treatment this spring (KCAW Photo)

Construction on one of Sitka’s busiest streets has resumed. The city will soon close half of Jeff Davis street – from John Brady Drive to Lincoln Street – to general traffic to complete the second phase of a sewer project. The first phase was complete in the fall.

Right now, there’s not much evidence of construction. The contractor, Coastal Excavation LLC, is first hooking up three homes along Jeff Davis to a temporary water source. Next week, they’ll tear out a 50-year-old undersized water main and replace it. The old pipe is eight inches in diameter and prone to corrosion. The new pipe is 16 inches in diameter and made of plastic, with a better flow rate.

Jeff Davis St. in Sitka. (Emily Russell/KCAW Photo)

Jeff Davis St. in Sitka. (Emily Russell/KCAW Photo)

David Longtin, Senior Engineer for the city’s Public Works Department, said the work being done on the southern half of the street is identical to the work completed on the north half in November. That includes widening the sidewalks from four feet to five feet.

“I used to walk down it all the time and you’re always single filing. You can’t really walk next to someone when it’s a four- foot sidewalk. We wanted to make it safer for pedestrians and also it narrowed the street down, which we thought was a good idea to kind of slow traffic down anyway,” Longtin said.

The contractor is also adding two red concrete crosswalks to this well-trodden section of road.

The total project cost is $1.6 million. Of that, $640,000 is funded by a grant from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and $800,000 from a loan. The rest is being paid from the city’s general fund.

The physical topography of the road has also changed, which Longtin says will allow for better drainage. “Jeff Davis used to be a crown street, where the high point of the road used to be in the middle. When it rained, the rain would shed to either side of the crown. But as part of this project, we sloped the whole road in one direction so all of the rain that falls on Jeff Davis will fall to the west side of the street,” he explained. Consequently, the curb will now be vertical, instead of curved, to contain that flow.

Longtin estimates the project will wrap up in early June, at which time the street will re-open to through traffic.

Additional road closures will be announced as needed. For more information call the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department at 907-747-1804, or Coastal Excavation, LLC, at 907-747-3838.