Several Petersburg residents are seeking a scenic highway designation for the roadway from downtown to the end of the road on Mitkof Island.
Chamber of Commerce manager Sally Dwyer is submitting an application to the state Department of Transportation under the state’s Scenic Byway program. “And we in Petersburg felt that our South Nordic and Mitkof Highway tie together would be the perfect avenue for Petersburg to have a scenic highway-byway designation and therefore be eligible for grants for maybe new campgrounds, trail systems, pullouts for scenic viewing or picnic spots,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer is collecting signatures this week on a petition endorsing Petersburg’s application. She also is photographing the roadway to submit with the application. A local group can apply for scenic byway designation through the state. Once a roadway is named a scenic byway it becomes eligible for grant funding and can also apply for a national designation through the Federal Highway Administration.
Dwyer said the chamber has been joined by local representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, state Department of Transportation and city’s building department along with Parks and Recreation are also helping promote the designation. “The funding part of it is nice but just the designation I think is a good starting point. And then we need to start having, if we get the designation, some community meetings to say, OK what do we want in this area? You know do we want anything more or do we wanna leave it like it is? So it’ll be fun to see what happens after,” she said.
Other roads and waterways already named as scenic byways in Southeast are the Prince of Wales Island road system and the Alaska Marine Highway, along with the Haines Highway. That roadway in Haines was one of four grant winners in the latest round of funding announced by the Alaska Department of Transportation earlier this month. A grant of $184,000 dollars will pay to put in restrooms, trails, parking and signs along that road.
As for the Petersburg application, Dwyer will be collecting signatures through August 17th. The deadline to apply is the end of the month.