Bridge Work Will Force PCR to Reroute Summer Bay Classic

Wednesday, July 23 2014

A sign near the beach parking area lets drivers know that Summer Bay Bridge is closed to traffic. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)

Construction on the new bridge in Summer Bay is having an unexpected impact on an Unalaska tradition.

The Bobby Johnson Summer Bay Classic is an annual half marathon. The race usually goes across the pass and over the Summer Bay bridge -- which is under construction.

Public works director Tom Cohenour says the footbridge that contractors have installed on-site will not be available for the race Aug. 23.

"They installed that temporary bridge for their use only," Cohenour says.

So PCR director D. Tyrell McGirt says they’ll have to figure out a different course.

"We’re in the process now -- we’re coming up with some suggestions," McGirt says. "We’re just going to make sure we measure it out."

Ben Bolock, the city’s recreation manager, says the goal is to preserve as much of the traditional route as they can, while keeping runners and cyclists off main roads and sidewalks.

The race could start on the other side of the bridge, loop through the pass and end in the same place -- but Bolock says that would mean shuttling people out to the starting point. PCR hasn't made a final decision yet on a new race route.

Meanwhile, Summer Bay is still an active construction site. The DPW's Tom Cohenour says workers have finished ripping out the creosote timbers that held up the old bridge over the salmon stream. He says they had to leave a few stumps in the water.

"Some of the timbers broke off, and per [the Department of] Fish and Game, we broke them off at the ground level in the water -- in the creek bed," Cohenour says.

Now, Northern Alaska Contractors are working on installing supports for the new bridge.

In the meantime, Cohenour says the bridge site is completely closed to the public. That means no vehicles or pedestrians are allowed across at any time until work is done in September.

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