The city of Kodiak recently closed the road leading up to Pillar Mountain to motor-vehicles for the winter. It installed a gate to make sure only authorized vehicles can access it. The land is still open to the public, just not cars or trucks.
The gate may be new, but this is actually the second year the city’s tried to close the road. Kodiak Fire Chief Jim Mullican says last year cones and signs were used to signal the closure, but they were either knocked down or run over by residents. Mullican says the reason to cord off the road is simple: safety.
In the last four years, the Kodiak Fire Department has had to respond to serious accidents on Pillar.
“This is not ‘it may happen, we’re really worried about it happening. It has happened. Someone has died up there and they died because of the icy roads.”
That incident was in 2014, according to Mullican. Since then no one has died, but three teenagers have gone off the side of the mountain, multiple cars have flipped over and one vehicle caught fire after getting stuck in the snow.
Blocking the road off isn’t just about keeping the public safe. Mullican says it’s also meant to keep first responders out of harm’s way.
“We’re there to serve the public and help them in their time of need. But I also have to be concerned about the first responders: the firefighters, the medics, the police department, public works department. All those who go in and help these people are also putting their lives in danger.”
Mullican says he understands why some people may be frustrated, but he says the gate shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying Pillar.
“People can still hike. They can still climb the mountain. They can still do all the things they would normally do. They just can’t take a vehicle up there.”
The road leading up Pillar will be reopened in the spring once it’s determined to be safe.