Sitka Cross Trail Federal Grant Awarded
The city received word that $1.8 million in federal funds has been approved for constructing the intermodal Sitka Cross Trail from Harbor Mountain Road to Old Sitka.
Sitka Trail Works Director Lynne Brandon submitted the request for funding to the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), administered by Western Federal Lands, on the city’s behalf. The Federal Lands Access Program funded Cross Trail Phases 4 and 5, completed in January 2016 and the planning and design for Phase 6 which is currently underway. The first Cross Trail, built as a walking trail in 1998, went from the Indian River trail to Sitka High School, and has been upgraded and extended since then to stretch 5.1 miles. When completed the trail will be eight miles long.
The purpose of the trail is not only as a multiuse bike and hiking trail but has been designed as an emergency and transportation route, if Halibut Point Road can’t be used for some reason. So far, about $2.4 million has been spent on the trail, most of it coming from state and federal grants.
The construction funding will not be available until FY 2019, and about $180,000 in matching funds will need to be raised by October 2018 for spring 2019 construction. Sitka Trail Works has already gotten started on the match.
Trail Works will work with Federal Highways, the City and the U.S. Forest Service on planning, permitting and design of the Phase 6 project. The US Forest Service will complete surveys for the National Environmental Policy Act process. Army Corps permits will be in place prior to construction. Construction will require two years, with project completion by 2021.
Sitka Trail Works, in partnership with the City and Borough of Sitka, is planning Phase 6 improvements to the Sitka Cross Trail system. A public meeting to receive comment on the project will be held on November 29th at Centennial Hall, Sitka from 5:30 to 7:00 PM with more detailed maps and information about this project. This project is being managed by the Federal Highway Administration, Western Federal Lands Highway Division, according to the Federal Lands Access Program guidelines under a grant agreement with the City and Borough of Sitka.
The Cross Trail Phase 6 will, when funding is secured, connect the US Forest Service Starrigavan Trails and AMHS Ferry Terminal with the Sawmill Cove Industrial Park with a system of separated pathways. This project has a long history of public support. The 1981 Sitka Park and Recreation Plan is the first of several public documents to call for the construction of this trail. The trail is also supported in the 2002 Sitka Non-motorized Plan and is described on pages 34-38 of the 2003 Sitka Trail Plan which can be viewed at http://www.sitkatrailworks.org/.
The Cross Trail is a non-motorized, multiuse trail designed for cyclists and pedestrians and will have a 8 to 10 foot wide crushed rock surface with an overall trail grade of 12 percent or less. Removable bollards will be placed at each access point to the trail to block motorized traffic from entering the trail while allowing access in case of emergency. The trail is designed to accommodate a light pick-up truck or 4-wheeler as required to provide occasional maintenance or emergency access. Currently 5.1 miles are built.
Phase 6 Project Description (see enclosed map):
- The Phase 6 project will build a new multiuse component of the Cross Trail system extending from the Harbor Mountain Road to Starrigavan. A connector trail is proposed to provide neighborhood access to the Cross Trail from the Old Sitka Cruise Ship Dock.
The Project map indicates the two proposed options for the trail location, the East alignment or the Golf Course alignment. The East alignment is 1950 feet shorter than the Golf Course alignment. Although two alternate routes from are shown, only one will be built.
Public input is an important part of decision making.
- As a part of the NEPA process at least two alternatives should be considered.
- Each alignment was explored by LEI Engineering and evaluated for the following:
- Distance, grade and aesthetics
- Soils, slopes and wetlands
- Stream and Bridge Crossing – size and location
- Culvert sizing
- Construction Access & Neighborhood Connections
- Public input is sought and then needed modifications will be made.
Needed modifications will be made based upon comments received. Public input, budget and buildability will all be considered in determining the final alignment.
Golf Course and East Alignment
Pro’s and Con’s
EAST ALIGNMENT GOLF COURSE ALIGNMENT
-Budget: $1.3 Million -Budget: $2.0 million -Arch pipe bridge for Granite Creek -One 50' bridge at Granite Creek crossing upper valley -11,700 ft: longer by 1950 ft/.37mi -9800 ft.: shorter by 1950 ft. or .37 mi. -Short section of 15% grade -Grades all <10% -Difficult, expensive construction -More easily constructed around "Granite Hill" -Further from neighborhoods -Golf Course fencing necessary -Few options for Neighborhood connectors -Opposed by some neighbors -Closer to neighborhoods -Few options for neighborhood connectors.
The input received at the public meeting on November 29th and from written public comments will be a major factor in determining the final trail alignment. Please attend if you are interested.
Questions about the project may be directed to Lynne Brandon, Sitka Trail Works, (907) 747-7244. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. or written comments may be mailed to Sitka Trail Works at 801 Halibut Point Rd., Sitka, AK 99835. Comments need to be received by December 14.