Sitka’s DeGroff Street “exit” is no more.
As of last Friday (10-4-19) Sitka’s Public Works Department painted a white stripe — known as the “fog line” — across the intersection of DeGroff Street and Sawmill Creek Road, and released plans for physically blocking the intersection with a series of reflective “delineators.”
Inbound traffic turning right onto DeGroff can still do so — but the turn will now be a hard right, just past the gravel island.
Public Works senior engineer Dave Longtin says the new traffic pattern anticipates changes planned by the state Department of Transportation, when Sawmill Creek Road is reconstructed from Jeff Davis Street to the roundabout. The state — which is responsible for maintaining Sawmill Creek Road as a state highway — will replace the gravel island with a paved peninsula and curbs.
Construction on the project is planned for 2021.
Public Works has spent much of the past year working on replacing utility infrastructure under DeGroff Street. Longtin says pavement at the intersection with Sawmill Creek is thinner than typical highway construction, since the state will eventually replace it when the peninsula is installed.
Managing traffic flow on DeGroff has been an ongoing issue for the neighborhood and the city. Built to residential standards, DeGroff was never meant to handle so-called “arterial” traffic. Nevertheless, many drivers choose to take DeGroff as a shortcut to the high school, or to avoid the roundabout.
Unlike a previous attempt to close DeGroff to inbound traffic a few years ago, the new pattern will not prevent drivers from entering the street from the east. But Longtin believes that remaining on Sawmill Creek Road should become the more attractive option for most.