Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Evergreen pavement to keep potholes another year


The Borough Assembly received a disappointing update that plans to pave Evergreen Road this year have been delayed until at least 2017.

The news came while the Assembly considered a proposal to amend the design contract for Wood Street improvements, which was previously expected to be bid ahead of the Alaska Department of Transportation’s Evergreen project. The city had hoped for efficiencies in equipment costs by having both projects undertaken at around the same time.

First expected complete in 2013, the Evergreen paving project would rehabilitate the road from the Alaska Marine Highway terminal to 500 feet short of the airport. After several delays, the final design phase was most recently expected to end next month, with construction to begin by May. But delays in securing land rights and other preliminary steps threatened to push back the project schedule.

“We knew they still had a bunch of work to do,” explained Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch.

Public Works director Amber Al-Haddad teleconferred with DOT on Monday, when she learned of its decision. DOT is continuing to work on its design and still plans to get items put out to bid this year, with some preparatory work undertaken ahead of paving next year.

“At this point that’s what they’re telling me,” Al-Haddad said.

Smaller projects accompanying the Evergreen improvement include the addition of a sidewalk and retaining wall between the ferry terminal and turnoff to Petroglyph Beach. Drainage along the roadway would be improved and utility poles realigned, and the road would see additional signage, curbs, gutters and guard railings.

Funds for the project, while managed by the state-level department, are federally-sourced. Jabusch explained the money is there, but the delay is likely due to scheduling difficulties from demand elsewhere in the state.

“It’s disappointing, because it keeps happening over and over again,” Jabusch told the Assembly. “We’ve lobbied, and I know other communities have had the same problem.”

The Wood Street project was amended to proceed with bidding to ensure the city will not miss the summer construction window. Otherwise, it would risk losing grant funds from the state.

The Assembly also approved a two-year contract with Petro Marine Services to be the Borough’s fuel provider through Jan. 31, 2018, at the management fee rate of $0.44 per gallon. The only bid received, the rate still only came out 8.6 cents higher than the one agreed upon for the previous two years.

Based on the fee and projected rates of usage, the contract is estimated to be worth around $83,204, and includes the petroleum needs of Wrangell’s school system, hospital, the Nolan Center, and its various public departmental facilities.

An amendment to a design and construction inspection contract with engineering firm DOWL for the sewer pump stations replacement project was approved, in the amount of $28,817.75. The additional funds were for work not covered by the initial contract, necessary for the city to receive its two grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“It was the only way they could allow us to get this grant money,” Jabusch explained.

In October the Assembly accepted $91,000 in Rural Development loans along with $68,000 in grants, which the city will use to match existing grants to update its two aging sewage pump stations. Full costs for the project are expected to near $1,000,000, with the lion’s share to come through the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. In addition to the USDA loan and grant, Wrangell’s share is expected to total around $78,000.

In another engineering item, Assembly members approved implementation of a pilot testing program of a new water treatment system. CRW Engineering Group will be working with the water department to analyze the city’s water source using computer models. Once completed, a small-scale water plant of a type most suitable to filtering the local water will be hooked in as a test. After the pilot plant processes water under the assumed best process, the data that comes out of that will verify the best process to use in treating the city’s water.

Wrangell’s current slow sand filtration system has difficulty keeping up with demand, particularly in the summer processing months, and Al-Haddad said a new, dissolved air filtration system is recommended as a replacement.

An agreement with Corvus Design for the design of the future Mariners Memorial was also amended, adding $4,250 for electrical and lighting design work.

In his monthly report, Jabusch reported to the Assembly that city staff has this week begun to hold meetings discuss the upcoming budget process. Departmental staff have been asked to submit drafts and prioritize items in case the money is not there.


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