June 14, 2012 | Volume 42, No.24

Sidewalks, curbing may be expanded

State Department of Transportation officials this week said they’re hoping to secure money to expand curb and sidewalk replacement work adjacent to downtown paving this summer.

“It’s looking pretty good but it’s still a week out before we could say one way or another,” said DOT Southeast director Al Clough. Money for the work would come from funding not used on other projects around the region this summer, he said.

The amount needed is close to $500,000, he said.

“You’re constantly reshuffling the funding deck. We’ve got money to reprogram to allow this project to be a little more complete,” Clough said.

Designers of the local project still need to make sure environmental and right-of-way issues are covered for an expansion of work, Clough said. They must also check to see if the project’s scope can be expanded without causing delays.

The expanded work may not include all walks and curbs in the construction zone, as it doesn’t pay to replace ones that are in good shape, he said.

The project addition wouldn’t borrow funds from other Haines projects, Clough said.

Ideally, sidewalks adjacent to the roadway would be replaced the same year as paving, especially ones in disrepair, but project funding doesn’t always coincide neatly, Clough said. “It’s a juggling act because that’s the way the funding is,” Clough said.

State Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, said additional funding in the region may be due to more competition on state bids, including from contractors from the Lower 48. “All the contracts are getting more competitive, which is good.”

Thomas said two weeks ago that he couldn’t get additional funding for the project this year. “It’s a good thing. It should make Haines happy. They’re getting a new downtown.”