Lupine grows near Mitkof Highway at Blind River Rapids, about three miles south of the site slated for culvert replacement. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Mitkof Highway near Petersburg will see some work this year or next to repair damage from a powerful fall storm in December of 2020.

Torrential rains contributed to a fatal landslide in Haines and a disaster declaration for part of the region. The deluge washed out part of Petersburg’s public works yard which is being rebuilt this summer. The rains also washed out roads and damaged road culverts around Southeast.

The Alaska Department of Transportation plans to replace one damaged stream culvert at 10.8 mile of Mitkof Highway near Petersburg.

“At this site there was significant debris that washed into the uphill end of the pipe and got lodged in there and tore out sections of the pipe and basically damaged it beyond in situ repairs so that’s kind of why we’re getting involved with the permanent repair to actually dig the whole pipe out and replace it,” said Joel Osburn the DOT’s project manager.

The five and a half foot culvert that runs underneath Mitkof Highway at that spot will be replaced with one that’s a little larger, seven feet in diameter. But otherwise it won’t mean a big change for the state road that runs the length of the island.

Osburn said it could mean a reduction to one lane of vehicle traffic during the one and a half to two months of work.

“So you would still have traffic going through,” he said. “You’d have a flagger on both ends. I think that’s kind of the way we’d approach it but of course the contractors have the ability to craft their own means and methods and so it’s possible that the contractor could come up with a different plan.”

The state plans to seek bids from contracting companies in August and hopes a company can do the work this year. However it might not be until 2023 depending on availability of materials.

The state plans to use funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to do the repairs. It’s estimated the work could cost between $1 million-2.5 million.

The DOT has other projects planned on Mitkof Island to repair damage from that storm. One is near Alaska Marine Lines on Mitkof Highway, the other in on the southern end of the island.