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Prince of Wales Island

  • photo of people at a conference tableCraig Community Association
  • Hydaburg Cooperative Association
  • Organized Village Of Kasaan
  • Klawock Cooperative Association

Background / Program Administration & Staff

The island of Prince of Wales (POW) is located west of the City of Ketchikan, but is not accessible by road or bridge from Ketchikan. Access is either by airplane or ferry. There are 11 communities on POW, including four Tribal Governments. The economic base includes fishing, tourism, logging and sawmill operations and government services (primarily Forest Service).

The four POW tribal governments on the island were the subjects of this scan: Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan and Klawock.

Craig has a population of 1,227. The area covers 6.7 square miles of land and 2.7 miles of water. A new $13 million school was recently built in Craig.

Hydaburg has population of 364. The area covers 0.3 square miles of land.

Kasaan has a population of 55. The area covers 5.3 square miles of land and 0.9 square miles of water.

Klawock has a population of 848. The area covers 0.6 square miles of land and 0.3 square miles of water.

Craig and Kasaan have pooled approximately $70K/year for transportation planning. Klawock and Hydaburg do not have a planning staff, but Hydaburg is currently advertising a planning position.

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Transportation Systems

Marine Transportation - The Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) connects POW to Ketchikan twice daily in the summer and once daily the rest of the year.

Surface Transportation - There are approximately 2800 miles of roadway on POW, although most of these miles are pioneer roads used for timber harvest. Surfaces on primary roads are either shot rock, gravel, Bituminous Surface Treatment (BST)or asphalt. Surfacing on the only road to Kasaan is a combination of shot rock and gravel, which was very rough in spots, while other sections appeared to be in good condition.

photo of puddles on a road

The state operates and maintains a paved road network serving the center of the island, connecting the communities of Craig, Klawock, Hydaburg, Thorne Bay and Hollis. This network includes a paved link to the state airport near Klawock. In addition, this network extends north to Coffman Cove Junction. As part of the Forest Highway Program, a paved surface is planned for the 20 miles to Coffman Cove. This segment would connect with the proposed Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) service from Coffman Cove, with maintenance provided by the Forest Service and the City of Coffman Cove.

While directional signs are present for Klawock and Craig, directional signs to Kasaan are primitive and do not meet the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devises (MUTCD) standards. The only signs assisting travelers in finding their way to Kasaan are unofficial.

photo of a sign post pointing to Kasaan

photo of road signs: speed limit 20, equipment in roadway, Thorne Bay Solid Waste Site, Kasaan 17 mi

Air Transportation - There is an airport in Klawock operated by the State of Alaska, along with State floatplane facilities at most communities. Floatplane service to other points, most commonly Craig and Hollis, is frequently used. Adverse weather conditions delay or prevent the completion of many trips, particularly in non-summer months.

Public Transportation - Currently, there are no public transit services on POW. Taxi services are available. Also, senior citizen services, including transportation assistance, are available.

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Construction Projects

The Forest Highway portion of the Federal Lands Highway Program currently has a major project under construction on the Coffman Cove Road. Phase I of this project is just underway for $17.6 million and will rebuild 15.8 km of the road to an aggregate surface. Phase II will construct to just short of Coffman Cove and will pave the entire project. The Forest Service is currently working on a project that will take this route into Coffman Cove and up to the future ferry terminal.

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Maintenance and Safety

Road maintenance is an area of great concern and frustration on POW. During a consultation meeting with Tribal officials several participants identified safety issues surrounding the severe shortage of maintenance funding. In particular, these concerns are noted on the Port St. Nicholas Road and the Kasaan Road (2030). The first was constructed as a pioneer logging road, and carries two daily round-trips by school buses. The second has three one-lane Bailey bridges, with a stop sign for each direction regulating bridge use.

photo of a road sign: one lane road with turnouts please drive carefully

Concern was also expressed about the state's decision to not pave Hydaburg Road and to rely on a chip seal (BST surface) instead. The statement was that chip sealing does not hold up as well as paving. An added concern is that the primary use of state maintenance funds is for winter maintenance, including snow removal. Little or no funds are available for other maintenance needs, such as repairing the chip seal.

Kasaan receives 34K/ year in BIA funds generated from 4.3 miles of roadway.

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Planning & Proposed Projects

Four priority projects for POW were discussed:

The Port St. Nicholas Road Project is 12.4 miles total. Phase 1 extends 5.5 miles from Craig.

The City of Kasaan, South Thorne Bay access road starts off of Forest Highway 42 at the beginning of Forest Development Road 2030 (at "Goose Creek"). Sections of this 17-mile road are single-lane with occasional turnouts, including sections with a corduroy base supporting shot rock fill. Portions are poorly maintained, including the segment that crosses State Mental Health property. The signs on this road are primitive. This Route has the fourth highest ADT, and the most accidents of any other road on Prince of Wales Island.

Efforts are underway to identify funding for a transit system for POW Island.

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Coordination with Federal/State/Local Governments

FHWA and FTA have established relationships with the cities on POW, the State, and BIA that has helped with coordination. Interest was expressed to establish other relationships to further enhance the transportation programs, but help was needed in identifying the key relationships and getting them established.

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Other Modes

Jet service to the Klawock airport is highly desired (economic development), but no carrier has agreed to provide service. Airfield and navigation improvements would be necessary if a jet carrier agrees to provide service. There is interest in a bike path between Craig and Klawock.

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POW has 30 miles of road on the IRR inventory. Alaska DOT conducts traffic counts on POW every two years. The tribes can request additional counts, including pedestrian facilities.

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To provide Feedback, Suggestions or Comments for this page contact Tim Penney at tim.penney@dot.gov.