Marie Claire Harris and Roman walk down the newly repaved Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge Trail) on, May 27, 2020. The trail has been moved, repaved, and reopened after riverbank erosion threatened the original trail. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Marie Claire Harris and Roman walk down the newly repaved Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge Trail) on, May 27, 2020. The trail has been moved, repaved, and reopened after riverbank erosion threatened the original trail. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge) project starts off big summer for Juneau trails

Treadwell Ditch Trail is one among many trails recieving some TLC.

Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as the Brotherhood Bridge Trail, is almost finished with refits after being paved two weeks ago.

The trail was moved several hundred feet from its previous route after riverbank erosion rendered parts of the trail non-traversable.

“The river itself had kinda been eroding that bank,” said Keri Williamson, a project manager with the City and Borough of Juneau’s engineering department. “That erosion accelerated two years ago when the oxbow blew out.”

Southeastern Earthmovers handled most of the work, subcontracting with SECON Construction to do the paving, Williamson said. The total contract was about $240,000, Williamson said. Now, with the old trail ripped up and the new trail paved and open for business, the only thing left is to mend the remaining scar.

“We still have to reseed the old trail,” Williamson said. “We use a specialty mix that matches the existing species in the meadow.”

Juneau residents enjoy the newly repaved Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge Trail) on May 27, 2020. The trail has been moved, repaved, and reopened after riverbank erosion threatened the original trail. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Juneau residents enjoy the newly repaved Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge Trail) on May 27, 2020. The trail has been moved, repaved, and reopened after riverbank erosion threatened the original trail. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

People should avoid walking on the old trail for any reason while the new vegetation grows, Williamson said.

“We’re gonna try to get everyone to stop using that trail, one, because it’s unsafe and two, because we’re trying to reestablish the natural vegetation and it helps if people stay off it,” Williamson said.

There’s a plan to work on repairing wear and tear and the rest of the trail over the next several years, Williamson said. That’s likely to enter the design phase, working with the Department of Transportation, this year.

The old Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge Trail) is closed to all traffic while replanting of local plants is going on, May 27, 2020. The trail has been moved, repaved, and reopened after riverbank erosion threatened the original trail. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

The old Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei (Brotherhood Bridge Trail) is closed to all traffic while replanting of local plants is going on, May 27, 2020. The trail has been moved, repaved, and reopened after riverbank erosion threatened the original trail. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Happy trails ahead?

Juneau’s got a busy summer of trail improvements ahead.

“(We’ve) actually increased our capacity 150%, hired a third crew,” said Ryan O’Shaughnessy, executive director of Trail Mix Inc, a nonprofit that helps maintain and improve the trails around Juneau. “All of our employees are local this year.”

Michelle Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation, confirmed that Trail Mix was going to be busy working on trails from Out the Road to Douglas.

“I’m actually standing on the Treadwell Ditch right now. The Treadwell Ditch is a huge project for us,” O’Shaughnessy said in a phone interview. “We got a grant from the Department of Fish and Game last year to completely replace the Treadwell Ditch trail.”

The grant, which went through the Juneau Community Foundation, will enable Trail Mix to replace nine bridges down the length of Treadwell, O’Shaughnessy said. That’s not the only place that they’ll be working, though.

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“We got a grant from Alaska Department of Natural Resources to do some repair work on the Cowee Meadow Trail,” O’Shaughnessy said. “There’s some muddy sections we’re repairing and hardening. The worst parts have been triaged out of the state park’s general budget. We’re gonna bring the whole thing up to one standard.”

Other trails to be worked on include the Horse Tram Trail, the Peterson Creek Trail, Emerson Spur of the Treadwell Ditch Trail, and the Richard Marriot Education Trail in Switzer, Elfers said. There’s also more planning for the future to be done.

“We’re starting to revise the Juneau Area Master Trails Plan,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The first Juneau trails plan was in 1993. There was another in 2001. So we’re getting ready to start this giant public survey about what people want us to work on.”

Trail Mix will work with CBJ and the U.S. Forest Service to work on the plan, O’Shaughnessy said.

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