Arch welcoming motorists to Valdez will span the Richardson Highway
Controversial piece part of beautification plan and road resurfacing project
Rendering courtesy City of Valdez
An artist's rendering of the arch that will welcome visitors to Valdez.
Love it or hate it, the arch that will greet motorists as they drive into Valdez will be erected next week, weather permitting.
"Placed just west of Chitina Ave over the Richardson highway will be a 30' high decorative arch displaying the words "Valdez Alaska." the city's website says. "The arch will allow for 20' of clearance underneath. The blue lettering will illuminate in front of a metal mountain landscape. The mountain motif is carried on to the decorative concrete piers at the base of the poles. The full horizontal span is approximately 62 feet."
The welcome arch was one of the more controversial portions of the long-planned beautification project, which began work in earnest this summer.
In conjunction with the resurfacing projects down Egan Dr. the project also includes the new sidewalks and corner planters with seating for pedestrians, which are nearly complete.
The arch, or sign as it was called by Todd Wegner, the assistant city manager, will begin final construction Monday, weather permitting.
"The sign is being completed in sections," Wegner said in an email last week. "Mountain peaks, snow top, wire mesh infill and snow guard was the first stage. The upright columns, base and base angle is the second stage. Third is the 66' rolled arch beams, which we will received in 4 sections."
The arch is an Alaska-made structure.
"International Steel, Inc. is fabricating, painting and erecting the Valdez Gateway Sign. The majority of the work is being done in their 20' x 60' shop located at 3002 Spenard Road in Anchorage," Wegner said. "They have six employees working on the project, each doing various stages of the work at different times."
A portion of the arch was slated to arrive in Valdez at the end of last week.
Photo courtesy City of Valdez website
The arch under construction in Anchorage
"Painting will be completed in the shop as the sections are ready," Wegner said. "The fourth stage will be welding the mountain peaks to the arches. The final stage is onsite and is welding the arches to the columns, erection and paint touchups...The arches with the mountain peaks will ship to Valdez as one 66' section."
Erecting the arch will bring more detours from the Richardson Highway and city roads.
"A portion of the Richardson Highway in front of Totem Inn will be closed from August 22 – September 7 for the construction of the arch," Allie Ferko, the city's public information officer, has said through daily updates on the road construction projects in the city. "Chitina Avenue and Pioneer Drive will be used as detour routes."
It is hoped that weather will allow for the paving of Pioneer Dr, which has been under construction for most of the summer.