World War II Causeway Project

Original Project Description from the Sitka Trail Plan

The original concept to develop walking trails on the Causeway has changed a bit since the Trail Plan was published in 2003. Because the causeway is so severely eroded to Makhnati Island, the plan to develop interpreted walking trails was modified to include islands bordering Whiting Harbor, east of the boat access point shown on the original project map.

Sitka Trail Works began work on the Causeway in 2005 with an Alaska Trails Initiative grant. The original grant application described the planned project this way:

“The World War II Causeway project involves the design and construction of an ADA accessible walkway that would link refurbished and interpreted features of military ruins, which include gun emplacements, bunkers and an infirmary, along a 1 mile roadbed built by the Army in the 1940’s. Development of the site will allow visitors to enjoy an interactive walking tour to view, touch and experience the living history of Alaska’s role in the Second World War. Phase 1 funds of $150,000 will be used to clean up the current area and resolve safety issues so that it can be enjoyed in its present state. Phase 1 funds will also be used to produce quality design and site interpretation document to guide further project development and permitting. Phase 2 funds will begin the capital construction work.”

Current Status

As of June 2011, the Phase 1 clean up and planning is nearly complete. During the 2011 field season environmental work will continue by the US Army Corps Engineers and the contractor AECOM. An Historic American Buildings survey will be completed and the asbestos abatement will take place. Sitka Trail Works has coordinated and grant-funded an impressive amount of Phase 1 pre-construction work on Fort Rousseau Causeway. Please see the summary below and link to the documents of interest. We are hoping to complete the park pathways and interpretive signage by 2013.

Environmental Reports

Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessments for the Sitka World War II Causeway (July 2006 & August 2009) - (PDF)

These assessment reports were done by the Juneau Environmental Engineering firm, Carson Dorn, Inc. They were commissioned by Sitka Trail Works and paid for with grant funds. The reports concluded that several areas of contamination still exist on the Causeway and are in need of remediation. To view the full assessment reports follow this link:

Remedial Site Investigation reports by the US Army Corps of Engineers and AECOM Engineering (September 2010 & June 2011) - (PDF)

These investigations have recently been completed by the USACE and the contractor AECOM. When the Causeway became an Alaska State Park in 2008, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation asked the federal government to reopen open a file on Fort Rousseau to verify the findings of the Carson Dorn Environmental Assessments and to recommend a plan for cleaning up Fort Rousseau. Sitka Trail Works participated in the stakeholder meeting and assisted with local knowledge during the site visits.

Projected Timeline for completion of US ACOE clean up

  • 2011 Contract awarded for Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS Phase) to AECOM.
  • 2011 - Conduct Remedial Investigation and complete RI Report. This work is in progress.
  • 2012-2013 Feasibility Study Phase continues
    * A Feasibility Study Report is written that provides a plan that lays out options for the hazardous waste cleanup and determines the preferred option(s).
    * The Proposed Plan, that summarizes the Feasibility Study, goes out for public review and is presented at a public meeting to resolve any comments and concerns.
    * A Decision Document (DD) is written, that documents the preferred option(s) for remedial action.  The DD is approved by Corps of Engineers (COE) Alaska District Engineer or COE Headquarters depending on the final estimated cost for the Remedial Action.
  • 2014 - A contract for remedial action is awarded, subject to availability of funds, and the site is cleaned up.
  • 2015 - A Final Report is written and the project is closed out.

Depending on review times and other considerations it may be possible to complete the Feasibility Study Phase in 2012 and issue the remedial actions contract in 2013

Asbestos Abatement by Sitka Trail Works (2011) - (PDF)

The US Army Corps Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program does not cover asbestos abatement. Sitka Trail Works applied for and received a small grant from the Alaska Trails Initiative program to resolve this problem. One of the remnant World War II era buildings in Fort Rousseau is the Fuse House on Gold Island. It is in danger of collapsing. The building contains asbestos in the siding and roofing. Other small amounts of asbestos are found throughout Fort Rousseau. Carson Dorn has prepared a Final Work Plan for Asbestos Abatement in Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park. Follow the link to view the plan. Sitka Trail Works plans to perform the abatement work during late summer of 2011.

Management and Interpretation Plan

AK DNR DPOR Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park Management and Interpretation Plan (April 2009) - (PDF)

Pathways cannot be built and the park improved until a plan for park management and interpretation is completed. In April of 2009 Sitka Trail Works transferred $49,975 in grant funds to AK DNR DPOR. Please follow the link to view the Second Draft for Public Review. The final plan is pending approval.

Archeological and Historical Reports

AK DNR DPOR Archeological Survey (July 2007) - (PDF)

When Sitka Trail Works began work on the Causeway, the historic features has never been mapped, recorded or surveyed in place. Early grant funds paid for this work to occur through a Reimbursable Services Agreement with Alaska State Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Design and Construction. A link to the mapped historic features will be posted when information is available for DNR.

Members of the survey crew included: Bill Evans AK DPOR Engineer/Architect, Mike Schroeder PE Project Manager, Matt Hunter, Local WWII expert, Dan Thompson Archeologist I, Alan DePew Archeologist II, and George Findlay, STW.

In the meantime please check out Matt Hunter’s Map “Historical Features on the Causeway Today.” Matt also hosts an excellent website with great information about Fort Rousseau and the other Coastal Defense sites located around Sitka Sound.

Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park Preservation Plan (Dec 2010) - (PDF)

This plan was written by the AK DNR DPOR Office of History and Archeology thanks to a Preserve America program grant. It provides a framework for decisions pertaining to cultural resource protection, interpretive program development, and stewardship of the park. The preservation planning process involved inventorying resources, compiling research, and discussing and sharing ideas with park managers, industry professionals, and interested public during public meetings and comment periods. Sitka Trail Works is following plan recommendations and is developing an RSA with the Office of History and Archeology to create an Historic American Building Survey Report for the Fuse House. The report will be completed in 2011, prior to the asbestos abatement work to be done on Fort Rousseau.

Brushing and Clean Up Projects on the World War II Causeway

World War II Causeway 2007 26 Community volunteers cleared over 960 lbs. of plastic and garbage during an AMCC  coastal clean up grant to Sitka Trail Works

World War II Causeway 2007: 26 Community volunteers cleared over 960 lbs. of plastic and garbage during an AMCC coastal clean up grant to Sitka Trail Works.

World War II Causeway 2007: View of the 3mm anti aircraft gun battery on Sasedni Island before brushing. The islands are State lands, the Causeway road over tidelands belong to BLM.

World War II Causeway 2007: View of the 3mm anti aircraft gun battery on Sasedni Island after brushing. General Sharrow staff member for Representative Don Young, Matt Hunter local WWII expert and an unnamed Sitka couple on July 3rd Causeway visit.

Sitka Trail Works was lucky to have such great crew members in 2007. They did a beautiful job brushing the Causeway. Pictured above are Matt Dolkas-SJ Intern, Ben Hughey-Sitka High Junior, Melissa Hamilton-Sheldon Jackson Intern and James Bright.

Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park Designated by Legislature (April 2008) - (PDF)



On April 2, 2008 Governor Palin signed the Bill introduced by Representative Peggy Wilson creating the Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park, the first State Park created by the Legislature in eleven years. Long-time Sitka resident, Senator Bert Stedman has been a strong supporter of preserving the Fort Rousseau area. "This bill is a great achievement for Sitka," said Senator Stedman. "It helps preserve a chapter of our community's history and allows for active management that will make the area more accessible for recreation and visitors." Representative Wilson became interested in the park after visiting the area on a tour with Trail Works Director Deborah Lyons. Sitka Trail Works wrote an economic development plan for the park and testified before the State Legislature. Alaska Stat. § 41.21.191. : Alaska Statutes - Section 41.21.191.: Fort Rousseau Causeway State Historical Park established.