Assembly approves $211,220 to repair barge ramp flotation tank

The cost to cap a hole and rebuild the flotation tanks at the barge ramp has escalated since the problem was discovered last fall.

The borough assembly on Feb. 22 approved a $211,220 contract with the only bidder for the job — Dave Miller, of Dave’s Welding & Repair.

“The repair work includes sandblasting and recoating the inside and outside of both tank sections and their uprights and welding 3/8-inch-thick double plates to the bottom of the larger tank,” staff reported to the assembly.

The assembly at its Nov. 9 meeting authorized $115,000 for the project to repair the flotation tanks, but that was an estimate and inflation and rising costs have accelerated in recent months.

“Steel went up 30% and labor prices weren’t included in the original estimate,” Borough Manager Jeff Good said when he addressed the assembly last week.

The ramp has been out of service since September due to necessary repairs to the float tanks that lift and lower the ramp with the tides to line up with barges. Until the repairs are complete, freight barges will continue side-tying at the former sawmill dock next to The Marine Service Center.

Any delay in repairs past April could present a scheduling conflict at The Marine Service Center boat lift. “If we continue into the summer, you can’t take boats in and out,” Good said at the Feb. 22 assembly meeting.

Before he can start work on the float tank repairs, Miller needs to get his contractor’s license, which could take a month. Until now his work, primarily on fishing boats, hasn’t exceeded jobs of $25,000.

“As far as risk, I’m not going anywhere,” said Miller at the meeting.

Good said the borough can order the materials now, but there’s a risk. “If we do get the materials, the risk is if he doesn’t have the contractor’s license (by then),” he said. Adding to delays, the paint for the job is backordered and may not arrive until May.

Port Director Steve Miller at the last port commission meeting said Dave’s Welding is the best bet for the job. Other estimates the commission shopped around would have been double the price.

Longer term, the assembly is looking to have a broader discussion with Alaska Marine Lines about potentially getting out of the barge ramp business. The borough owns the ramp and AML, and other users, pay a fee when they tie up and move cargo over the ramp.

“We are the only community (in Southeast) that owns our facilities,” Good said.


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