The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

News briefs

 

Valdez Star photo

A large chunk of ice from the Glacier Stream was deposited near the entrance to the Valdez Glacier parking lot after a lake plug burst - creating a temporary but large flood in the area.

Flood worries

The quiet pond at the foot of the Valdez Glacier jumped its banks for up to a quarter mile and the Glacier Stream became a raging torrent Saturday after a lake on the Glacier lost a plug.

Running water overran portions of the bike path on the Richardson Highway near the Glacier Stream.

The waters receded by early Saturday afternoon.

The event occurred as the Lowe River again threatened to change its course, putting homes in the Nordic and Alpine Woods subdivisions at risk.

High waters covered portions of the trail leading to the a portion of the dike system at the end of Whispering Spruce Drive, while the water table began bubbling up on residential properties in a manner similar to events that caused flooding and worries last summer.

City officials are closely monitoring the situation by air and land observation.

Pioneer Drive

The City of Valdez says motorists should expect construction on E. Pioneer Drive throughout the summer and that it will include continued traffic delays and detours around Capt. Joes, Eagle's Rest RV Park, Old Town Burgers, and Sacred Grounds Coffee.

That portion of the road has been one of the town's more pothole riddles streets for the past several years.

"Project upgrades include new pavement, curbs, gutters, and improved drainage," the city said in a press release last week. " A new sidewalk will provide a connection to the Richardson Highway bike trail."

The city also said the road closures "will alternate between the east and west portions of E. Pioneer through mid July. Business access will be maintained."

Officials advised continued caution when driving in the area and other areas of construction in Valdez.

Hours cut

(AP) Alaska officials say all state courts will be closed every Friday at noon beginning July 1 to cut operating costs during the state's fiscal crisis. Staff at the Valdez Court said the early closures will begin in Valdez next Friday.

Court system spokeswoman Mara Rabinowitz says the new schedule is indefinite.

Officials say the closures will save the state about $2 million a year. Officials also expect the closures to yield a 4 percent cut in employee salaries. Workers will be on unpaid furlough during the closures.

Some designated courts will be open for time-reliant proceedings as well as some emergency proceedings such as petitions for domestic violence protective orders.

Officials say other cost-saving actions that have been implemented include reducing the court system's workforce by 9 percent through attrition.

Pipeline shutdown

The trans-Alaska pipeline is slated for shutdown this week according to Alyeska.

"Alyeska Pipeline Service Company employees and contractor crews are preparing for a 36-hour major maintenance shutdown of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), set to run from the morning of Friday, June 24, through Saturday, June 25," the Alyeska press release said.

Employees from Alyeska, the pipeline operator, and TAPS contractors will complete projects at various locations along the 800-mile pipeline, from Pump Station 1 in Prudhoe Bay to the Valdez Marine Terminal, during the scheduled shutdown. Planned work includes:

• Modification of piping at Pump Station 1 to use new above-ground path for suction, discharge and mainline pumps

• Isolation of below-ground piping at the Valdez Marine Terminal for internal integrity inspection using new technology

• Annual inspection and maintenance of Pump Station 9 power substation

TAPS has other project and major maintenance work planned for the upcoming months that will take place during short-duration shutdowns that last between 6-10 hours.

Alyeska conducts regular pipeline system shutdowns to perform maintenance and projects that can only be done while the pipeline is not in its regular operating state. This allows crews time to work on projects simultaneously along the pipeline and at the Valdez Marine Terminal.

Unemployment

Valdez Star photo

Car enthusiasts - and their classic rides - held a meet in Valdez last weekend when the Antique Auto Mushers of Alaska came to town.

(AP) Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in May, a small increase from April's 6.6 percent. The comparable national rate was 4.7 percent.

The last time there was a two percentage point gap between the U.S. and Alaska rates was October of 2009, when rates peaked at the height of the great recession – Alaska's at 8.0 percent, and the U.S. at 10.0 percent. But that relationship was unusual. For more than 25 years before the great recession, Alaska's rate averaged close to 2 percentage points above the national level.

Alaska's unadjusted rate had a typical seasonal decline from 6.9 percent in April to 6.6 percent in May. Unadjusted rates fell in 22 boroughs and census areas from April to May, remained flat in three, and rose in four.

 

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