Downtown paving job waits until at least 2011
If you spill your coffee driving down Third Avenue, you might consider a bib.
Resurfacing of downtown streets – recently a high priority for the Haines Borough – will likely wait until 2011 or later, according to borough manager Mark Earnest.
Failure to secure funding of the project by the Alaska Legislature torpedoed the borough’s main funding source for Phase 2 of a multi-year plan for improving roads, Earnest said.
Speaking to the Haines Chamber of Commerce two years ago, state Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, said his goal was to smooth downtown streets.
But Thomas said he prioritized other appropriations such as an eagle mew at the American Bald Eagle Foundation and Klukwan’s purchase of a cruise dock over roads this year because they represented more jobs for the community. He also said he was upset the borough shifted the first phase of road work away from downtown.
Phase 2 called for spending $2.2 million resurfacing Third Avenue between Main Street and Old Haines Highway, Willard and Mission streets, and First Avenue between Main and Mission streets.
Third Avenue improvements included work on underground utilities and construction of a new sidewalk between Main Street and Old Haines Highway.
Earnest said borough leaders have included Phase 2 money in a recent request to Alaska’s Congressional delegation, but it’s lower on their list of borough priorities from the federal government, behind harbor and sewer projects.
Earnest said the borough would make a "big push" next year to get the money from the Alaska Legislature, but said that as legislators won’t be up for election, fewer projects were likely to be funded.
There’s been no discussion of the borough paying for the work with its own money, Earnest said.
"We’ll have to wait and see how next year goes in the legislative process," he said. Mission and Willard streets between Third and First avenues, recently dug up for utility work, will remain unpaved another year.
Local road contractor Roger Schnabel said he expects to have a paving plant in town in 2011. The cost of relocating a plant can add significantly to a paving project’s cost. "I don’t think it will cost any more or less if they push it back a year. It depends on what oil prices do. The cost of paving pretty much follows the price of oil," Schnabel said.