The Tonka Road closure begins at mile point 2.3 starting where the first bridge is located.
Damage to that bridge and another one further up the road was first noticed during a recent routine inspection by U.S. Forest Service engineers.
Linda Slaght is the Acting District Ranger for the Petersburg Ranger District. She said the first bridge at 2.3 mile is actually fine but there is damage to the road that approaches it.
“The stream has kind of changed its channel a little bit and its pushing up against the bridge abutment,” Slaght said. “It’s eroding away the road bed from underneath.”
Slaght said there’s not much support left there and you don’t actually see the problem when you’re driving.
“You know, we’re afraid that too much weight going across that abutment will cause it to collapse without warning and so it’s just not considered safe for the public right now,” Slaght said.
The Forest Service hopes to have a temporary fix on the bridge in a few weeks. They put together a contract to get the work done.
“You know the issue right now is that we have a lot of people over there who want to go moose hunting,” Slaght said.
The Forest Service went to the site last week to check for hunters and vehicles to make sure people were aware of the situation.
The second bridge is located at 15.2 mile on the same road.
“It is not safe to cross,” Slaght said. “The bridge itself needs to be replaced. And so we’re going to have to close that one until it can be replaced probably next spring.”
The first 2.3 miles of the Tonka Road is still okay for travel. There is another road in the same area that remains open which is the 6352 road.
There are more than 600 bridges on the Tongass that the Forest Service maintains. Engineers check each of them out every two years.
If anyone has questions or concerns about the Tonka Road closure they can call the Petersburg Ranger District at 772-3871. The Forest Service also likes to hear about any road damage that residents might notice when they are out and about.