KETCHIKAN (AP) — A sign welcoming visitors to Ketchikan that was taken down after a suspected drunken driver slammed into one of the poles supporting the structure will be making its return to the southeast Alaska city in time for cruise ship season.
The 24-year-old man was originally charged with a DUI and refusal to submit to a chemical test after the October crash. But he later pleaded no contest to the refusal charge and the DUI was dropped, according to court records.
Public Works Director Mark Hilson said the arch remained in good condition, but the support columns on each side of it were damaged.
Crews have been working to remove the old columns and put in new ones, The Ketchikan Daily News reported .
“I would expect next week you’ll see some pin piles being driven by our streets crew, and then the following week … the foundations will go in and then we’re hopeful our columns come to town and we get them up,” Hilson said. “We’re pretty confident that this is all going to happen before the first cruise ship.”
The first ships — Holland America Line’s Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam — are scheduled to pull into the Ketchikan port on May 4, according to Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska.
The work on the welcome sign project, which included the fabrication and installation of the new support poles and re-installing the arch, will cost about $31,000. The work is part of an insurance claim and the city does anticipate footing the bill, Hilson said.
Ketchikan has had a welcome arch along the city’s Mission Street since the 1930s. The current structure, the city’s fourth, was installed in 1996 to replace an arch that was hit by a truck.