Timing really is everything

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2010

Any time the Department of Transportation might want to do major work at the intersection of Kalifornsky Beach and Beach Access roads, it's going to be an annoying mess.

But could the agency's timing possibly have been worse? Dipnetting season?

The project has two goals -- to install a new culvert to open new spawning areas on the south side of K-Beach, and to improve the road intersection and extend a pedestrian pathway.

K-Beach just west of Beach Assess is reduced to a single, dirt lane right now that's flagged 24-7. We have hundreds of extra vehicles -- campers, fifth-wheelers, boat trailers, etc. -- filling up that route through month's end. They are there every year at this time, like clockwork. Everyone knows that.

So, anyone who lives in this region, and that includes most of the crew you see working out there, are scratching their heads and wondering, "Why now?"

Pat Wittrock is regional engineer overseeing all DOT's projects in Southcentral. He knows we're not happy with the timing. Neither is he. Really.

But according to Wittrock, is has to do with timing the work between fish runs.

"We've got this window we need to work within so as not to disturb the fish," Wittrock said Thursday. "We've got runs in the spring and the late summer. Unfortunately, as with a lot of these projects, there's always a compromise."

Major roadway work in Alaska is always going to be an irritant because we simply don't have a lot of alternate routes. Yet we usually put up with it because we know it's got to be done.

That's the case with this project.

We still don't have to be happy about it.

In short: The timing on the K-Beach project makes about as much sense as turkey and dressing on Labor Day, but that's what we've got.

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