Political leaders and local organizations broke ground on the Katlian Bay Road project Tuesday afternoon. Sitka Senator Bert Stedman championed the plan to extend Halibut Point Road, which has been in the works for years. Voters approved the project in a 2012 bond package. But construction finally began earlier this summer.
The project will extend Halibut Point with an additional 9 miles of unpaved, single lane road with turnouts. It will end at the northern limit of the bay, between lands owned by Shee Atiká, Sitka’s village Native corporation, and lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service.
Several stakeholders spoke before a group of people crowded under tents to avoid the rain, including Senator Stedman and Shee Atiká CEO Ken Cameron. Sitka Mayor Gary Paxton praised Stedman for his work on the project. He said he was excited to see how Shee Atiká will move forward, once the road is built.
“This is a big deal. This is a really, really big deal, he said. “You cannot overstate the long-term economic and quality of life impacts that this will have.”
In 2012, $14 million in funding was approved for the project, with an estimated cost of $16 million. Since then, the estimated cost of the road extension nearly doubled, and earlier this year, the contract to construct the road was awarded to K&E Alaska for $31,755,278.