Crews working to enhance and improve the Treadwell Ditch Trail on Douglas Island took a leap forward this week as they lifted beams and tightened bolts on a new 50-foot-long bridge across Lawson Creek.
Once complete, this bridge will provide a secure crossing over a historically unreliable and flood-prone creek, said Trail Mix Inc. Executive Director George Schaaf.
"This was the number one priority," Schaaf said. "Historically (this area of the creek has) been the most treacherous."
Installation of this bridge is another step forward for the local nonprofit organization that has had crews working all summer to improve the overall quality of the 17-mile trail that follows the contours of the island from Douglas to Eaglecrest Ski Area. They've done so using money acquired from both fundraising efforts and donations from the City and Borough of Juneau's Capital Improvement pool. Since the trail winds in and out of land owned by the city and acreage managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Schaaf said their efforts are focused mainly on the north and south ends of the route.
"(This trail has) been one of the highest priority trail projects in Juneau for the last 10 years," Schaaf said. "We tried to raise some money a few years ago at Centennial Hall and the turnout for that fundraiser was so great that the city threw in some money as well."
In preparation for the bridge, Trail Mix worked with the CBJ engineering department to identify the best location for new crossing. It's located about 1,000 feet downstream from where the trail currently intersects the creek. And while this new site requires about 650 feet of new trail to be constructed, Schaaf said they chose the area because it shortcuts a terrain elbow that, when the water is high, may otherwise cause problems or damage to any structure installed there. He said the new section of trail, which should be completed by the end of this month, will be a turnpike design and SAGA deserves credit for putting in two weeks of work hauling gravel in preparation for its construction.
The bridge itself echoes the design of another recently installed bridge spanning Fish Creek, which is located further north on the Island. Schaaf said the Fish Creek bridge, once completely installed, will span about 130 feet. This new Lawson creek bridge will span 50 feet. Both were constructed by Western Wood Structures of Tualatin, Ore., and are a pony truss design.
Intensive work began Tuesday with the aid of TEMSCO Helicopters who lifted the largest bits and pieces from the staging area at the top of Crow Hill to the trailside worksite. By Wednesday afternoon, with all the pieces on site, trail crews immediately began the installation process. Work will likely continue through the end of today and into next week.
Additional work is planned on the Treadwell Trail for as long as weather allows, Schaaf said.
"By the spring of next year, we'll have the section of Blueberry Hill to Gastineau Meadows pretty well buttoned up," he said.
This means crews will have filled mud holes and repaired, constructed and reinforced a few other creek crossings on that section.
The north end of the trail is also getting attention.
"At Eaglecrest, we're working to connect (the Nordic trails) to the Treadwell," Schaaf said.
Trail Mix hopes to have the bridge completed by early next week.
Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at email@example.com.