Local News

Evergreen Street improvement project funding may be delayed

The Evergreen Road Improvement project may be delayed by a few more years because of a lack of funding. The project was aimed at solving the street’s structural problems from the ferry terminal to the airport and would have added a sidewalk from the terminal to Petroglyph Beach. It was originally slated for funding on the State Transportation Improvement Project list and would have been built in 2014. Now, the funding has been delayed.

Jeff Ottesen is the Director of the Division of Program Development with in the state’s Department of Transportation. He says that the state received significantly less money from the federal government for road projects this year, especially for community roads. Even though the project is not slated for funding during the 2013-2015 STIP cycle, it doesn’t mean the project is completely off the list.

“The money to pay for the design work has already been put on the books and the design squads that work here at DOT are already working on that project,” he explained. “They’ll continue until they produce a set of bid-ready documents.”

Once the design is complete, the road improvement project will be eligible for any extra, unexpected money that may come the state’s way.

“Projects that are bid-ready have been very useful to advance when we suddenly have more money than we originally thought,” Ottesen said. “So I can’t predict that there will be more money this coming year or the year after that but I can tell you that the past three or four years in a row that it has been a pattern that has been very obvious.”

Ottesen said the surveying that started last summer should be completed and the design finished by the end of next summer.

Borough Manager Tim Rooney stressed that the only way the borough can pay for the $6 million improvement project is through outside funds and that the condition of the road is rapidly deteriorating.

“The underlying condition of the road is very poor so as the holes begin to develop, they begin to multiply.” The city has been patching the road as they go along while they wait for funding for major improvements. The Evergreen Road Improvements have been on the STIP list since 2008.

He also said it’s a safety issue to have so many pedestrians on a road with no sidewalks, especially when Petroglyph Beach is being touted around the nation as an important and unique site.

The borough is leading a campaign to try to get the project put back on the 2013-2015 STIP list. Rooney says he thinks part of the problem may be that the state is misinterpreting the federal bill that allocates the money. He’s asking community members to write to the governor and to the state’s Congress members to ask them to reallocate money for the Evergreen improvement.

Rooney says the borough is looking to improve other local roads as well. One of the top capital improvement projects on the borough’s list requesting funding from the state is paving Cassiar Street. Rooney says it’s one of two remaining unpaved streets in the town proper.

“It’s literally a street wide enough for one vehicle and it serves about 10 or 11 different houses. So for instance, when the trash truck goes into that area, it goes all the way down to the end of the street and then has to back out.”

The borough is requesting $250,000 for the project from the state and hopes to negotiate a design contract with R&M Engineering in Ketchikan.

Webber is also unpaved and the local government is working with the Wrangell Cooperative Association to obtain funding for that project.

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