Infrastructure improvements slated for upcoming year


June 27, 2019

In the new fiscal year beginning July 1, the Haines Borough will spend roughly $7.6 million for projects to better local infrastructure. Of that, more than $6 million will be grant funded.

Included are the new harbor boat launch, public safety building renovations, accessibility upgrades, cement asbestos water main replacement, development of an additional Piedad water source for increased water production and road maintenance.

“Capital improvement projects support critical infrastructure so the town can function,” public facilities director Brad Ryan said. “Historically, there was a lack of putting money back into facilities. If you keep it up, your money will be ahead. If you don’t, you have to put a lot of money into it when it falls apart.”

Boat Launch

The most expensive improvement project will be the Portage Cove boat launch, expected to cost about $5.8 million and paid for by an Alaska Department of Fish and Game grant and a state grant.

This month, contractor bids for the project came in about $1 million more than engineer estimate (which borough staff is currently deciding how to fund.)

Disability upgrades

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades to the assembly chambers in the public safety building, including an accessible bathroom and improved wheelchair ramp, are part of a larger upgrade proposal to the entire ground floor that was twice rejected from state funding grants.

Last month the assembly approved reallocating $150,000 of townsite service area funds to ADA upgrades and exterior metal siding.

Ryan said that replacing the public safety building would take “at least another 10 years,” but an additional $150,000 for metal siding would add 10-15 years of life to the building.

The borough will also install ADA-accessible restrooms in the museum, which Ryan predicts will take place this winter.

Cement Asbestos Water Main Replacement

Outlawed asbestos-cement (AC) pipes on Front Street will be replaced through an Alaska Drinking Water Fund loan up to $1 million.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the pipe in 1979 due to health concerns, like cancer, linked to inhaling asbestos, but agencies have allowed the pipes to remain underground under certain permitting conditions. Construction will begin this summer.

Increase water flow

The borough water and sewer department is working on designs to increase townsite water sources, a project Ryan hopes will go to bid in the late winter of 2020, and is expected to cost $250,000 in capital improvement and economic development funds.

The project will hook up an additional two springs to the Piedad water source, intended to increase water flow to the town.

Water coming from Piedad Springs is better quality and costs less to treat, Ryan said. Increasing water flow will also increase the availability of water to sell to cruise ships.

Road Paving

Ryan hopes to get Totem Road and Soap Suds Alley paved in this year’s budget, he said. He will send a list of road improvement suggestions to the planning commission for approval after cost estimates are made.

Harbor Fuel Tank

Fuel tanks need servicing for their deteriorating insides, Ryan said. The repairs, totaling $100,000, will be paid with harbor funds.

New Street Lights

AP&T will install LED streetlights on the Haines Highway in front of the school to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Upgrades are scheduled for fall 2020.


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