(Photo provided by state DOT)

Despite severe winter weather, the $31 million dollar Katlian Bay Road project in Sitka remains on track to be finished in the next two years.

Department of Transportation spokesperson Sam Dapcevich says the contractor, K&E Alaska, took a break in December from constructing the 9 mile road extension north of Sitka, but now they’re back drilling and blasting about a mile from the Halibut Point Road access point. But some sections of the road won’t be re-opened for construction until spring.

“The parts of the project that are accessible only through the water are shut down for the winter,” says Dapcevich.

The road came under scrutiny last October when Sitka resident, 61-year-old Maurice “Kim” St. Mitchell Jr., died during construction. The excavator St. Mitchell was operating plunged into the water in a 100-foot landslide.

The project was put on pause for a week after the accident, resuming in November. The Alaska Occupational Safety and Health department inspection of the accident remains open.

Dapcevich says the road’s route remains the same.

“The contractor has requested a minor shift of the center line, which allows them to produce more rock for the road’s construction but other than that there’s no change,” he says.

The Katlian Bay Road project is slated to be finished by September 2022.