New Bridge Fence Still Won’t Be Photo-Friendly



A visitor to Kodiak tries to take a picture of the city through the fence on the bridge to Near Island. Marion Owen photo

Jay Barrett/KMXT

The Fred Zharoff Memorial Bridge, which connects downtown Kodiak with Near Island, is likely to get a minor facelift this summer, after about 30 years of service. Some, however, wouldn’t mind seeing it get major reconstructive surgery.

When it was built, the pedestrian walkway was put on the west side, overlooking town. It affords what is probably the best view of the city and is more often than not quite stunning, tempting photographers with the sweeping vista. The only problem is the fence. It’s 1tall with an inward-leaning overhang, and chain-link too small to poke a camera lens through. Local photographer Marion Owen says the fence has frustrated her for years.

(Bridge 1 20 sec "We’d like viewing ports … lovely view of the community.")

She tells a story of a visitor she ran across who was trying to take a picture of town from the bridge:

(Bridge 2 38 sec "He was really frustrated … aesthetics to trump safety.")

That’s Rick Feller, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation in Anchorage.

(Bridge 3 34 sec "For this bridge for this … that we just can’t make.")

Code dictates the size of the holes in the fence and how tall it is, though Owen says the current fence exceeds that height. The inward overhang of the fencing is designed to keep hoodlums from throwing objects onto the state ferry Tustumena, or any boat or car passing under the bridge. Randy Vanderwood, the chief of maintenance and operations for the DOT’s Central Region, says an object could reach a speed of 55 miles an hour if dropped from the highest point on the bridge – over 100 feet in the air.

The obvious question then, is why a fence was not placed along the east side of the bridge. Once again, Feller:

(Bridge 4 41 sec "You know you’re always … access is not permitted.")

While it won’t improve the view FROM the bridge, the view OF the bridge should get better this summer, as Vanderwood said the current chain-link fence is getting replaced, and other improvements may follow:

(Bridge 5 40 sec "I was over there last week … locals that live there.")

He said the new chain link will be coated in green plastic so as to be more aesthetically pleasing and more rust-resistant. The work should be done later this summer.


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