Borough to negotiate Mount Dewey trail work to fit budget

The effort to extend the Mount Dewey trail has hit an unexpected bump in the road. The only company that bid on the project, Ketchikan Ready-Mix, asked over half a million dollars more than the borough had budgeted to improve the trail’s accessibility and minimize wetland impacts.

The trail extension is currently funded at $947,000, a figure that includes construction, inspection and administration costs. The budget is mostly federal funds. Ketchikan Ready-Mix offered to take on the project for $1,532,580.

The borough has been working to improve the Mount Dewey trail since 2014, when the community expressed accessibility concerns at a public forum. Based on the feedback they received, contract landscape architect Chris Mertl and engineer Brandon Ivanowicz designed a three-quarter-mile extension to the current trail that would wrap around the back of Mount Dewey, then connect to Bennet Street. The route is intended to avoid wetlands, follow the contours of the landscape and highlight the area’s natural beauty.

The funding gap doesn’t mean that the borough can’t move forward with the trail extension. Instead of retooling the project and resubmitting it for bid — a process that would likely push past the tentative summer 2024 completion date — the borough is going to work with Ketchikan Ready-Mix on modifying the plans so that they fit the budget.

At its Sept. 26 meeting, the assembly gave borough staff permission to negotiate the project scope and enter into a contract with the company for $850,000 at most.

“It’s just changing some of the material,” said Borough Manager Jeff Good, explaining the adjustments that the borough would make to the trail. “It’s still the same project. … Instead of going with the step-and-run, which was a wood, cedar step-and-run, it’s going to be a gravel run.” Paradoxically, making the trail wider will also help cut down on costs.

“They (Ketchikan Ready-Mix) will come back to you and they’ll say, if you change it to this material, we can do it for this much,” he added.

If negotiations are successful, Good anticipates that the company will start work on the project immediately after finishing up at the Alder Top Village (Keishangita.’aan) residential subdivision, where it is busy clearing borough land and performing preliminary road work. The work on Mount Dewey “can’t take too long,” he said. “There’s a short construction window left.”

The trail is still on track for its projected summer 2024 completion date.


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