By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Groundbreaking for new harbor coming soon

Busy summer will see construction – along with highway work


Source: City of Valdez

This graphic shows the traffic pattern contractors will use in the coming weeks for the general construction trucking route proposed for the first phase of construction on the new boat harbor.

So when will the first ground break on the new harbor construction project?

Soon, according to city manager John Hozey, who would not commit to an official date during Monday night's city council meeting. He did, however, hint that a groundbreaking event – involving Mayor Larry Weaver and heavy equipment – would soon be announced.

The project has taken over fifteen years to fund, and the Army Corp of Engineers has been actively working the project for some time on the project, which will cost – in round numbers – over $65 million.

With favorable weather conditions, the first phase of actual construction could begin this later this month, with the removal of Hotel Hill and site excavation for new roads, pedestrian access and parking and underground necessities such as the storm drain system.

The timber boardwalk, future harbor ramp abutments, and high-mast lighting are also on the current schedule, along with "stub-outs" for future facilities that are not currently funded.

Unfortunately for Valdez, the major earthworks slated for this summer coincides with a planned resurfacing of the Richardson Highway this summer. In other words, traffic in and out of Valdez this summer will be at best a challenge.

The project in its entirety is expected to continue into the year 2018. Or even beyond.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing the dredging and breakwaters with work anticipated to begin spring 2016," the city says, but notes that much of the city's side of the construction project is dependent on the Army Corp of Engineers completing its portion of the work.

The project design is at 65 percent for Phase 2 Inner Harbor moorage floats and launch ramp.

A number of amenities in the project's overall scope have been deferred due to current budgetary constraints.

Last fall, Valdez voters approved a $20 million bond package for the project after Valdez received roughly $21 million in Federal funding to support the project. Several million in state grants before the current budget crunch in Juneau added to the pot.

In late March, Hozey told council during a special meeting that that the overall budget shortfall for the overall project "matured" upwardly from $15 million to $16.7 million.

"There has been some upper pressure on the budget since we discussed it in January," Hozey told council.

A major driver of the budget increase is blamed on the project stretching into a third year and the related need to extend agreements with project management and inspections.

"We're now going to have to budget for a third year," Hozey said.

But there was good news.

"As far as the project award goes, I think we're doing very well," Hozey said at the meeting that also awarded Harris Sand & Gravel the general contract for the project.

Council approved the contract with Harris for $18,982,334.05.

Many other familiar faces are on board for the project.

Ron Rozak of Arcadis - the company that recently completed construction of the new middle school – will also be the construction manager on the city's behalf.

Kim Nielsen with R&M Consultants is on board. Lynn Meyers is the project manager for the Army Corp of Engineers.

The new harbor is situated opposite the current small boat harbor across the spit, nearly adjacent to the SERVS dock.


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