- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - Ketchikan officials are working to fix the arch that welcomes visitors to the city after a suspected drunken driver slammed into one of the poles supporting the structure.

Public Works Director Mark Hilson said the arch itself is in good condition, but the support columns on each side of it were damaged in the Oct. 5 incident.

“Welds were pulled loose and they have to be replaced,” Hilson told the Ketchikan Daily News (https://bit.ly/2fchxTa). “Unfortunately, those pipe supports are anchored in concrete right down through the sidewalk. We’re in the process of getting a structural engineer to look at what columns can be put back and what foundations need to be put in in order to hold it up.”

City Manager Karl Amylon told council members last month that Ketchikan will likely pursue legal action against the driver’s insurance company to cover the repair costs.

Officials are aiming to get the arch back up by spring. The city “definitely wants the arch back before tourism season,” Hilson said.

In the meantime, work crews are improving the look of the sign on the arch while it’s down.

“When we got the sign down, it looked worse than it did from a distance,” Hilson said. “We’re taking the opportunity to change out the hardware to be stainless steel and give it a good cleaning and get it back in as good as shape as possible before we put it back up.”

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.

The 24-year-old driver who hit the arch last month faces charges of driving under the influence and refusal to submit to a chemical test.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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