Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interpretive Signage along the StreamWalk

The Taiya Inlet Watershed Council recently received a grant for the development of interpretive signs for the StreamWalk. Corvus Design was contracted for the design and developing content for the signs. On January 8th a public meeting was hosted at the Public Library to develop the themes for the signs. Additional meetings were held with the National Park Service and local teachers to develop curriculum and themes for a series of signs that will target school aged children. During the public meeting one of our young participants created a model of the StreamWalk from Post-It Notes.

The team will return to Skagway in late March to present the signs to the public for comments and input.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Final Concept Document for StreamWalk

All the comments from previous public meetings and stakeholder meetings have been incorporated into the Concept Document for the StreamWalk and the final version is now accessible, on the right-hand side of this page, under the 'Related Documents' tab.  Or you can click on one of the four sections listed below, broken up to make it easier to navigate:

Thanks for all your dedication and hard work on this!  Let's keep the momentum going!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spring 2012 - Project Updates and Meeting Summary

Steering Committee Meeting: May 10th, 2:30 PM, Assembly Chambers

  • Chris Mertl, Corvus Design
  • Don Beard, Tetra Tech Engineering
  • John Hudson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • Rachel Ford, Taiya Inlet Watershed Council (TIWC)
  • Darren Belisle, Alaska Power and Telephone (AP&T)
  • Jaime Bricker, White Pass and Yukon Route (WP&YR)
  • Mark Shaeffer, WP&YR, Municipality of Skagway (MOS) Assembly
  • Theresa Thibault, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (KLGO)
  • Paul Burger, KLGO

 Chris Mertl presented the refined preferred conceptual design and layout that included comments from the last public meeting. Also presented was a series of illustrations showing typical cross sections and elevations for the proposed trail, bridges, dripping platforms, and a variety of raised observation platforms (click here for these images, as assembled into final concept document). Drawing packages were provided. Don Beard gave input about technical engineering elements included in the StreamWalk. Based on walking the site earlier, Don and Chris provided the following comments that would have impact (positive or negative) to the design or the budget.

  • Excavation for trail placement could be minimal due to the characteristics of the landscape and existing sand/gravel, greatly reducing the budget. Local trail and building materials are available at low cost.
  • Can use pre-engineered bridges to replace the old footbridge downstream from Pullen Pond or to install new bridges along that same reach; however, manufacturing custom bridges could be more cost-effective.
  • In order to provide more space for pedestrians and a safe separation between the StreamWalk and railway in the vicinity of the green bridge, the StreamWalk needs to be moved away from the railroad tracks. The original plan was to cut off 8 feet of the green bridge and create more land adjacent Pullen Creek by using a vertical crib wall at the creek edge rather than the sloped crib system currently in place. It could be possible to pick the bridge up and move it away from the railway tracks, then extend the fence and add a gate for safety reasons.
  • Getting the local community involved in trail building, where possible, will save money and promote ownership of the trail.

Conceptual cost estimates of the various elements of the StreamWalk were presented. The costs were broken into the various zones and a per item cost. Spreadsheets of costs were provided. (click here for these info, as assembled into final concept document)

The design had positive and favorable acceptance. One concern from a member of the Committee was that the helical screws shown as boardwalk stabilizers have a tendency to get snapped in the drilling process due to the boulders and cobbles in the soil. Alternative approaches include use of treated wood footings or use of micropiles, which is a process that pumps grout into a drilled tube becoming a piling. The Committee also expressed that their desire was to see the entire construction design plans finalized before any construction began. This is in contrast to designing sections and then building them as the community prioritized.

Discussions since the last public meeting provided new information and resulted in some unresolved issues:

  • Work with WPYR, APT, and Robert Murphy about trail between the green bridge and the NPS property. WPYR and AP&T are willing participants but there has not yet been a conversation with Murphy about whether or not the StreamWalk can be incorporated into the recently abandoned right-of-way that is now under his private ownership.
  • Resolve questions about the area around the Penial Mission house. Possible land trade between landowner and NPS would change the existing plans to go through the Penial yard.
  • Land survey is needed to ensure trail accessibility and property limits.
  • Permitting for use of land. USFWS will be a large help on this issue.
  • Historical preservation of excavated sites. The proposed StreamWalk goes through a large undisturbed archeological site and the appropriate measures must be taken to comply with land use regulations. NPS will be the contact agency.
  • Agreements about maintenance of the trail
  • Portions of the historic Pullen homestead are up for sale and could be a significant asset to the project if the route can travel through portions of this property and add to the historic, cultural and environmental aspects of the StreamWalk as well as make easier access from the Moore homestead to the City Museum. Need to investigate what portions are available and if partnership for purchase is possible.
(photo above: From left to right, Kyle Rosendale, Mike Korsmo, Rachel Ford)

Public Meeting: May 10th, 6:00 PM, Chamber of Commerce

The design team (Corvus, Tetra Tech) and project leads (TIWC, USFWS) presented the same information at a public meeting and asked those present to discuss their priorities for the project. Members of the public were allowed to ‘vote’ on the various elements of the Draft Concept Plans (click here for the Draft) that they believed were the highest priority for the community in the establishment of a StreamWalk. Due to funding limitations, the project would require a phased approach.

The highest priorities selected by the public are as follows (click here to see these priorities, as assembled in the concept document):
  1. Provide an ADA accessible trail on north side of Pullen Pond from the Broadway Dock to the north side of Congress Way as the first segment.
  2. Create a gateway at Congress Way just north of Pullen Pond as an important place to draw in visitors who are coming off the Railroad Dock. Need to work with WPYR and Municipality to improve pedestrian safety, and reduce congestion and pedestrian confusion in this area. Could also benefit the StreamWalk by getting people to the north side of Congress Way and to the next segment of Pullen Creek and the existing StreamWalk.
  3. Improving the habitat and ecosystem in and around Pullen Pond and riparian restoration along entire creek
  4. Provide dipping platform and educational resources for children, both local and visiting.
  5. Replace existing footbridge downstream of Pullen Pond
  6. Provide two overlooks with interpretive signage in Zone 2
  7. Create gateway at beginning of Zone 1 a great place to grab visitors’ attention at the Broadway Dock.
  8. Provide one overlook with interpretive signage in Zone 1, if possible. Clean up vegetation to allow viewing into creek.
  9. Widen StreamWalk adjacent to the green bridge, move the bridge, and expand timber fence between StreamWalk and railway tracks. Provide pedestrian gate for those wanting to cross tracks and get to Dewey Lake trail.
  10. Improve existing unorganized pedestrian route in Zone 4 through the installation of a boardwalk that will provide connection to the Moore house as a natural place to end the first set of constructed elements. 

Steering Committee Meeting: May 11th, 8:30 AM, AP&T

The community priorities were presented to several Steering Committee Members the next morning. Present were representatives from KLGO, AP&T, and WP&YR. All members supported the list of priorities. Discussion topics of this meeting:

  • Who assumes liability for the trail once constructed? It liability would likely fall on MOS, who owns the final trail, but the landowners who allow for an easement for the trail will want to be clear about who is responsible for accidents. Partnership agreements may be a way to share responsibility.
  • Enhancing Pullen Pond for the local kids would be a great asset. A lot of energy is placed in developing tourist attractions, and it would be nice to put emphasis providing assets for Skagway’s children and also children who travel with parents.
  • What kind of wood does NPS use for handrails in the area? The StreamWalk should stay consistent with existing area infrastructure.
  • Need to coordinate with the Department of Transportation Gateway Project (Theresa is the NPS contact for that project).
  • Need to look at property for sale at Pullen Homestead and resolve possible access through Murphy property.

The next steps as planned by the Design Team:

  1. A report will be created that includes the conceptual design, refined preliminary budget, pictures of the existing conditions along Pullen Creek, and community priorities
  2. The report will be presented to the MOS assembly with letters of support from the Steering Committee entities. These members will be encouraged to speak at the assembly meeting in support of the project.
  3. It is hoped that the MOS Assembly will then give its support for the StreamWalk priorities and overall conceptual design.
  4. Once adopted/supported by Steering Committee and MOS the final product can be used to secure funding for the project.
  5. Funding so far:
    • USFWS and MOS have already committed $30,000 each for the design phase for priorities
    • Several grants have been submitted for construction but no approval yet. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Public Meeting to discuss Preliminary Concept Alignment

Join us for the second Pullen Creek StreamWalk Community Meeting on Wednesday, February 15th at 6:00pm in the Assembly Chambers.  We will be reviewing and discussing the Preliminary Concept Alignment for the StreamWalk (pdf document posted on this site, under the 'Related Documents' tab to the right).

Please contact AJ Conley at 983-2426 or if you have questions.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Project Kick-Off

On September 21 and 22 members of the Corvus design team arrived in Skagway to inventory the Pullen Creek corridor, host a public meeting and meet with various stakeholders. This was our first opportunity to listen to the concerns and opportunities presented by the community. The information gathered during these two days will be the foundation of design work than will start in October. Below is a summary of what we heard at the meetings, and our own professional observations. We welcome all and any comments related to the project and these can be submitted by clicking the 'comment' link at the bottom of any of these posts.

Pullen Creek Site Visit


(Above: the team stops along the existing trails to discuss current uses, opportunities and constraints.)
(Above: view of Pullen Creek from Congress Way culvert.)

·         Initial thoughts and opportunities were discussed as we walked along the corridor and became familiar with the character and places of interest along it.
·         We walked from the mouth of the creek up to the where it runs near the Museum (the end of the scope for this project).
·         We walked the corridor a second time in the afternoon and with a GPS unit, recorded actual locations for/of
o   Existing conditions of habitat, trail conditions, interpretation themes, private and public property extents, concerns and successes, etc.
o   possible habitat improvements
o   possible pedestrian/pathway/user improvements
o   (see graphic for notes specific to areas along the corridor)
·         General Habitat notes:
o   There is significant erosion occurring where trail users/tourist like to currently walk next to the creek or Pullen Pond for salmon viewing opportunities.  The trails and user areas (around the shelter) are being ‘loved to death’.
o   The locations provided for salmon viewing are often too small (bridges) to accommodate the many tourists and users therefore end up trampling important habitat.
o   While there is enthusiastic interest in spawning salmon, there is general misunderstanding in the tourist community of the salmon lifecycle within the creek
o   There were extensive habitat improvements recently made to the Pullen Pond area to allow salmon to pass through the culverts under Congress Way and provide more fish-viewing and fishing opportunities north of Congress Way, while preventing erosion.
·         General Pedestrian User/Trail conditions:
o   There are conflicts with pedestrians using the existing creek trail system with vehicles and railroad tracks and cars, particularly at the Congress Way intersection and the Dewey Lakes Trailhead.
o   Guardrails have been used in many locations to keep trail users on the trail and prevent them from trying to touch or pick up fish.

Meetings with Public and Steering Committee

What we heard:

1)      Broadway Businesses:  During the discussions of improvements for this area, it was noted that perspective of business owners along Broadway should remain a focus while considering improvements to the Pullen Creek corridor.
2)      Existing conditions and Uses:
a)      The bridge at the temporary weir and the green bridge at the Dewey Lakes Trailhead are great spots for fish viewing. Neither is wide enough to accommodate fish viewers and trail users who just need to cross the creek.
b)      Privacy is often an issue; tourists using the trail often find themselves close to or on public property without knowing it or respecting boundaries.
c)       Safety needs to be addressed
i)        Conflicts between trail users, vehicles, and the railroad are especially common at the Congress Way crossing and at the Dewey Lakes Trailhead
d)      Fishing isn’t a huge draw for people, although it is enjoyable.  Fish cleaning isn’t a problem either, there aren’t enough numbers of fish being caught that a cleaning station is needed.
i)        The winning King Salmon in the derby was 20lbs with a prize of $2500
3)      The Gateway sidewalk is a project in the process of developing a new pedestrian sidewalk/route from the cruiseships to lead visitors into the downtown.  Preliminary drawings for this work should be available.  The team will look into finding them.
4)      Concern regarding payment for development, construction and maintenance was discussed at length. 
a)      After design, it is intended that TIWC will research funding opportunities and maintenance agreements.
i)        RTCA (Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance) is on board, has selected this project to assist in finding funding
ii)       NPS may have ability to find additional funding for this if it was widely supported by the community. 
iv)     USFWS is in support of this project and has funding opportunities available for habitat protection and restoration opportunities
v)      Creating connections between other nodes in the community (schools, playgrounds, museum) may also help find a variety of other funds
vi)     It was recommended that when the suggested improvements are designed based on community input, finding letters of support or endorsement can help get funding
b)      Keep maintenance as low as possible
c)       It is intended that this project will be phased as funding and maintenance agreements become available.
d)      It was noted that MOS does not currently have enough funds to maintain their properties, trails, and landscape as is.  Head tax money is already all accounted for, none will be available for maintenance of these improvements.
e)      Options for maintenance and funding will be researched (including ‘adopt-a-trail’ agreements, etc.)
f)       Within the improvements on the list for MOS, this project is a lower priority.
5)      Area Specific Notes
a)      Lawn area at the lower portion of Pullen Creek was discussed at length.
i)        The majority of the property is MOS.
ii)       Long term ideas for development of this area at one point may have included industrial or hatchery development.  There is nothing in the works for this, but should be considered that this property may prove to be ideal for later development. It was suggested to keep the focus on the south side of the creek, as future development wouldn’t have the same impact on that side.
iii)     The potential for a hatchery development in this area is desired, although studies of the creek show water temperature to be too cold in this area for a successful hatchery.
iv)     It was noted that the north side of the creek in this area has a constant flow of users.  The south side also has a lot of users who are going between the ferry terminal and the railroad dock.
v)      Several crossing points would be beneficial to allow trail users to cross over from the north to the south side more easily when trying to get to the SeaWalk area.
vi)     The Pullen Creek project should consider that Skagway believes tourism and industry need to coexist, and generally do currently in the city.  Industry generally stays in the west part of town and tourism stays in the east.
vii)   Skagway will continue to develop industry as is possible to create jobs and keep their annual population.
viii)  A few times a year, tent camping and parking are allowed in the lawn area when large events occur.
b)      North of Congress Way
i)        Trail is very connected with the railroad in this area.
ii)       It is preferred to keep the trail on MOS property, if possible
iii)     The existing trail veers off from the creek prior to the Alaska Power and Telephone Company (AP&T) plant. 
iv)     It has the potential to join in with the Moore House (NPS) and connect trail users with Skagway’s history and reconnect them back with the business district
(1)    Compliance with NPS standards and MOS Historic District standards in this area is necessary; Mike and Dave with NPS support the idea of having a trail connect with the Moore House and will help as needed to ensure NPS requirements are met.
(2)    The Fence on the Moore House property is considered a historic structure and cannot be modified
(3)    Bench area at street is not considered historic and could be modified
(4)    Existing trail/foot path on south side of NPS employee housing is not actually on NPS property, route will need to be evaluated in this area.
v)      Playground/Museum area
(1)    Lots of kids and visitors use the playground in this area, and like to play in the creek and watch fish.
(2)    MOS is trying to maintain good visibility in this area, for safety
(3)    Old Rail Car that sits in the woods by the Museum belongs to the Museum; it is desired to move it to a move visible location, possibly at the end of the parking lot
6)      Desired character for Pullen Creek Improvements
a)      Keep it natural, with well-defined edges
b)      Asphalt is generally not desired.  It doesn’t match the character of the area.
c)       No lighting is desired
d)      8’ wide sounded about adequate, to accommodate the variety of users
e)      It should be accessible for all users
7)      Potential Opportunities:
a)      Many interpretive Opportunities exist within the Pullen Creek corridor
i)        History Skagway and the goldrush
ii)       Energy and Hydro – AP&T plant diverts water from upper lakes to generate power; some of their equipment is relatively old and historically significant
iii)     Salmon Spawning
b)      Improve Signage and Wayfinding along the Pullen Creek corridor
i)        Can help direct tourists of how to return to the dock
ii)       Provide information on MOS rules and ADFG regulations (keeping off private property, don’t touch fish, etc.)
c)       Safety Improvements
i)        Opportunity to provide guidance for trail users of all ages and abilities along railroad corridor, at road crossings, and potential private property hazards.
d)      Habitat restoration/rehabilitation
i)        USFWS, AKSSF, NMFS – these agencies have funding available for habitat restoration projects
8)      Partnership - In summary, the team wants to develop a partnership with all the agencies and groups involved, including the NPS, USFWS, the White Pass Railroad, AP&T, MOS, and landowners to contribute to the process of this project.  What happens with this project will be up to the community.
a)      The team will meet with all possible partners to get their input on what is possible with them, or what is desired.  Make sure they get a chance to discuss their ideas and concerns with improvements within the corridor.
b)      RR – Congress Way and north, the trail is adjacent to the rail corridor
c)       AP&T – a path runs along an AP&T easement north of Congress Way, there are numerous interpretive opportunities with the AP&T plant
d)      USFWS – has done significant work around the Congress Way crossing to improve salmon habitat to date and is interested in helping restore more of the creek.
e)      NPS – supports the project and acknowledges that it offers significant opportunities to tie the tourism activities along the creek in with the NPS Moore House and other historic activities in downtown Skagway.
f)       There is no desire to force this project upon anyone or create a route where one is not wanted.

Meeting with NPS to discuss Moore House coordination



The team met with NPS staff to discuss possible options for connection to the Pullen Creek StreamWalk project.

·         The structures on the property cannot be modified, but a trail can run through the property and out the north east side. 
·         The best option seems to be to have a potential trail come up to the fence opening at the front of the property and run along the boardwalk decking to the bench area.  At this point the trail can continue through the property to the northeast side either along the existing decking or to the bench area and then between the coldhouse and the Moore House. 
·         There is not enough room in the street to have the trail run outside the property fence.
·         It was noted that the coldhouse will be undergoing an archaeological dig within the next year, but could lend itself well to more historic interpretation for Stream Walk users.
·         While the decking cannot be modified significantly to match the character of a StreamWalk, the NPS is open to discreet indications that the route of the Streamwalk is different than the rest of the boardwalk on site, whether that is small brass icons in the decking or otherwise, that would have to be agreed upon.
·         At the northeast side of the property, the trail would have to extend through the parcel that has the NPS employee housing.  Whether this trail segment would run on the west or east side of the employee housing building would be up to the NPS.  

Summary Meeting with the Steering Committee


The team summarized what they heard the night before (listed above).  Click here for a full graphic of the summary of notes from the meetings and inventory and analysis.
The Steering Committee requested that all notes and meeting summaries be distributed.
The team briefly discussed their plans and next steps which included:
1)      Meeting with the railroad to discuss their opinions/concerns later in the day
2)      Summarize the information we have gathered and maintain it on a website/blog for continued communication with the community about the project.
3)      Will begin looking at possible options for a StreamWalk
4)      Would like the Steering Committee to give us priorities
5)      Set up the next team meeting in Skagway to occur around the next Assembly meeting
a.       If there are other agencies that would be good to involve, it would be good to present it to them as well and keep them informed.

Meeting with White Pass and Yukon Route



1)      White Pass’ areas of concern for the Pullen Creek StreamWalk include:
a)      Congress Way Crossing
i)        They have had issues with tourists stacking up at this location when trains are moving through, not enough room for hundreds of people to safely line up and watch fish
ii)       The improvements in this area, including the split rail fence, really help with this concern
iii)     This fence needs to stay as is and where it is.  There is no flexibility on relocating this fence
b)      Trailhead to Dewey Lakes
i)        They have tried to slow hikers and dog walkers down in this area, people tend to run from one side to the other very quickly
c)       Crossing at Broadway
2)      Are there plans to add a second track in the StreamWalk corridor?
a)      Possibly if the ore port does go through, but it wouldn’t affect this project.
3)      The fenced off portion of the creek at the Dock area is on railroad property, are they opposed to thinning vegetation in this area? 
a)      Not opposed to thinning of vegetation if it is done safely and guardrails are maintained (it is a steep drop)
b)      The fish ladder is an area they are currently looking into for maintenance
4)      Visibility along the tracks
a)      It is very important that their conductors have good visibility along the tracks for long distances.
b)      Pruning needs to be done along the existing fishing rock areas north of Congress Way
5)      Other notes
a)      They typically need 50’ from the center line of the tracks on either side, clear
6)      Proposed ideas to make Pullen Creek StreamWalk and Railroad have more safe relationship
a)      More clearly define where tourists need to cross at Congress Way.
i)        Keep crosswalks all the same color
ii)       Widen corner area and reduce planter area at the SW of the intersection to allow queing before crossing to the north of Congress Way
iii)     Provide plantings or focus point on NW corner to draw pedestrians across intersection from SW corner.
iv)     Discourage crossing between SE and NE corners
b)      Slow trail users down and keep pets on leashes at the Dewey Lake Trailhead
i)        Include a raised boardwalk at the Dewey Lake Trail crossing
ii)       Suggestion was made to include a self-closing gate that makes people aware they are crossing tracks and need to be aware
c)       For all proposed improvements in these areas, the design team will include White Pass in the discussion.
7)      Jaime Bricker agreed to serve as White Pass’ point of contact with the team and will likely sit on the Steering Committee as well to continue to provide representation for White Pass

Project Background, and Welcome!

This blog will be used to post information regarding the project as it evolves as well as collect comments from community members unable to attend meetings or discussions about the project.  Please sign up as a blog follower and receive updates when new material is posted!

Project Background:

In February 2009 the Municipality of Skagway (MOS) completed a Comprehensive Plan to guide community growth to the year 2020. The plan identified non-motorized trail systems as an important community asset. Two priority non-motorized transportation issues in the plan included:

1.  Ensuring the safety of visitors and employees moving between the waterfront and downtown areas
2.  Providing safe walking and biking routes through town

The MOS has begun to address these priorities. The recently constructed Seawalk (along Congress Way) and the proposed Gateway Project (along S. Broadway Ave.) were designed, in part, to increase pedestrian safety and efficiency of movement between the S. Broadway Ave. retail and historical area and the Railroad, Broadway, and Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) docks.

During development of the comprehensive plan, several parties (Municipality of Skagway, Taiya Inlet Watershed Council, and National Park Service) proposed creating a walking path, with interpretive signage, that ties together historical and natural history points between Pullen Pond and the City Museum via the Pullen Creek corridor, along the east side of the Skagway Historic District. This project is listed in the Comprehensive Plan as a specific action (6.20) under goals for pedestrian and bicycle routes. The action states: “Work to develop a contiguous walking trail with interpretative signage from Pullen Pond and Creek, through the east side of the historic district, to the City Museum.”

The Taiya Inlet Watershed Council (TIWC), in partnership with the Municipality of Skagway (MOS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), requested proposals from qualified consultants to provide Pre-design Services for the Pullen Creek StreamWalk Project in Skagway, Alaska. The pedestrian trail project is proposed to extend along the Pullen Creek corridor from South Broadway Ave. to the MOS City Hall and Museum at East 7th Street. 

The goals of the StreamWalk Project are to:

1.   Expose pedestrians to lower Pullen Creek, including salmon, stream and riparian habitats, stream and riparian habitat restoration projects, and the local history of the area.
2.   Identify opportunities to rehabilitate stream and riparian habitats along the lower Pullen Creek corridor for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the public.
3.   Provide an educational walking tour, including the potential for guided walks, for Skagway visitors and residents within the lower Pullen Creek corridor.
4.   Provide an alternative pedestrian route to the City Museum area for visitors originating at the cruise ship and AMHS docks.

 Corvus Design was recently selected to begin work on this project and will be leading the design and engineering of this project in association with TIWC, USFWS, and MOS.

TIWC contact - AJ Conley
USFWS representative - John Hudson, Habitat Restoration and Coastal Program Biologist

The Design Team:
Chris Mertl, ASLA, Project Lead Landscape Architect - Corvus Design
Laura Minski, ASLA, Project Landscape Architect - Corvus Design
Don Beard, PE, Project Civil Engineer - TetraTech Engineering

A Steering Committee has been formed to provide feedback to the design team as well as keep the community informed of the project.  If you have comments or information you would like to provide for the project you are welcome to contact them as well as the design team.

The Steering Committee:
Dave Schirokauer - National Park Service (NPS)
Paul Reichert – Assembly Member
Mike Korsmo - Assembly Member
Tom Smith -Municipal Manager
Jaime Bricker - White Pass and Yukon Route 
AJ Conley - Taiya Inlet Watershed Council (TIWC)
John Hudson - US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)