Dillingham downtown streets won't see repairs until summer 2018

Jun 26, 2017

The Alaska Department of Transportation is still working to acquire right-of-way for the downtown streets project. The city applied for a grant to fix other downtown streets but the request was denied.

D Street at its intersection with Seward Street.
Credit Allison Mollenkamp

Dillingham’s downtown streets won’t be seeing repairs for another year. State level delays and a denied grant proposal are slowing down repair projects. KDLG’s Allison Mollenkamp has more….

A loop of streets in downtown Dillingham, which includes sections of D Street, Main Street, and 2nd Street, is scheduled to be repaired by the Alaska Department of Transportation. That plan has been in the works since at least 2005. Aaron Hughes is the Department of Transportation Project Manager for the Dillingham Streets project. He says early work included taking community input.

“They did a Context Sensitive Solutions workshop with the city and the public to get a better understanding of what type of project is needed and what the city really wants out of this project. And one of the main results from that workshop was that the community wants better pedestrian facilities in the downtown area.”

From that early workshop the project has gotten a lot closer to fruition, says Hughes.

“Currently we’ve got it designed through 95% level. We’re currently in the process of acquiring the right-of-way needed for the project and we’re hoping that will be finished in the next couple of months and that we’ll be able to advertise the project early next spring and the project will be constructed next summer.”

Hughes also says the right-of-way acquisition is taking longer than expected. A Department of Transportation memo says when the roads were originally constructed the right-of-way process was not done correctly, which is making the process this time more extensive.

After the state rehabilitates the streets, they will take them over on a permanent basis. This project, however, will only deal with the central loop of streets. The city would like to repair other downtown streets including the section of Seward Street near the high school and the section of D Street between L&M and the post office. They applied for a community infrastructure grant through the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. BBEDC denied their application. Norm Van Vactor is the CEO of BBEDC. He says the application didn’t meet the intent of the infrastructure grant program.

“Just the generic name of it is Infrastructure Grant Program and the board’s intent is that these be newer projects, something different that maybe provides local resident employment over an extended period of time, and in a nutshell this was basically a repair project and wasn’t something new and different.”

The city’s request was for approximately $880,000. The city intends to appeal the decision.

In the meantime, potholes are frequently graded by the public works department. The department also applied hot mix asphalt once this year.

The sidewalk at the corner of D Street and Seward Street.
Credit Allison Mollenkamp

Contact the author at allison@kdlg.org or (907) 842-5281.