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Lawson Creek bridge in need of repair

Posted: June 13, 2013 - 9:56pm  |  Updated: June 14, 2013 - 12:07am
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A chuck of asphalt rests near a section on the Lawson Creek Bridge on Wednesday that has seen multiple patches applied.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
A chuck of asphalt rests near a section on the Lawson Creek Bridge on Wednesday that has seen multiple patches applied.

A stretch of roadway on Douglas is causing a hole, er, whole lot of problems.

If you’ve been out on Douglas Highway toward the Lawson Creek Bridge, you’ve probably either swerved around the damaged roadway that’s in a state of perennial disrepair or rumbled over it.

The problem started five years ago when the pothole first appeared. It’s nearly the length of a minivan and almost as wide as a single lane.

It has been patched and re-patched, most recently last winter, but one resident has tried to resolve the problem to no avail.

“I don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Rex Gist, a resident of Douglas for 20 years, said. “When I first started complaining about it, I got nothing.”

Gist is worried about the bikers who ride in the bike lane motorists are forced to swerve into at the bridge to avoid it.

Only an arduous process will right the wrong.

The way pot holes are normally filled — grinding out the loose pavement entirely, filling with new asphalt — won’t work in this situation.

Since the stretch is on a bridge, grinding could potentially cut into the cement that is supporting the bridge; then the bridge would no longer be structurally sound, according to public works.

Since it’s under federal jurisdiction, Douglas Highway cannot simply be repaired by the CBJ, but rather the state Department of Transportation.

“The short term fix has been to apply various asphalt material patches,” Al Clough, DOT Southeast Region Director, said. “Patching has been of mixed success with repeat applications necessary.”

Clough referred to the area as a “feature … not a pothole in the strictest sense.” In the past, Tack Coat is sprayed to help patch new areas of asphalt together, but parts have come up and now litter the roadway.

In an email response to one of Gist’s complaints, Greg Patz, DOT Southeast Region Maintenance Superintendent, wrote that they’ve “been looking into resurfacing the entire deck, and hope to get funding to do that soon.”

The funding would have to come from the state.

“We are working with our bridge engineers to develop the proper repair protocols,” Clough said. “In the interim we’ll continue to patch as necessary.”

In the meanwhile, Gist is still concerned and hopes the issue will be resolved sooner rather than later.

“They could take it as whining,” Gist said, “but I’m looking out for public safety.”

• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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