The paving of Evergreen Avenue between Wrangell’s ferry terminal and airport will be delayed another year.
Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch announced the additional delay at Tuesday’s borough assembly meeting. He called the news disappointing and frustrating.
“Last year, we were assured that it would be done this spring,” said Borough Assembly Member Daniel Blake.
“Yeah, I agree, and we were promised that the year before and the year before,” Jabusch said.
Wrangell received funding from the Federal Highway Administration to pave the heavily pot-holed Evergreen Avenue and add a sidewalk from the ferry terminal to Petroglyph Beach.
But because the Federal Highway Administration does not have an office in Alaska, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for the project.
And the DOT has delayed the project several times. It has been on the State Transportation Improvement Project (STIP) list since 2008.
Wrangell Public Works Director Amber Al-Haddad said DOT is trying to get the design done and out to bid this year.
“And they are hopeful that they will actually accomplish that and begin the project this year, but only focus on doing all of the underground work and retaining wall work they can do, and then just have the project ready for paving next year.”
DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow wrote in an email that the project will not be ready to start construction at the beginning of the summer, so it would not be completed by the end of the 2016 construction season.
Woodrow wrote, “The department is confident that the project will be under contract this year and completed sometime in 2017.”
Jabusch said the delay on Evergreen will also delay the paving of Wood Street, which is the gravel road connecting Zimovia Highway to the Alaska Island Community Services clinic.
Jabusch said he is asking the state for an extension on the grant for that construction project because it ends in June 2017.
“We didn’t want to do it this year if there isn’t a paver active in town,” Jabusch said. “So we’re seeing if we can get an extension on that so next year, when they pave the Evergreen project, we can do our street at the same time and hopefully get a little savings and economy of scale.”
The Wood Street project has been on hold since 2013.