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Aurora Harbor upgrades discussed

Contractor to be chosen next March for $10 million first phase

Posted: July 24, 2013 - 8:20pm  |  Updated: July 25, 2013 - 12:12am
Aurora Harbor, below, and Harris Harbor, center, line Egan Drive in downtown Juneau. The city's Docks and Harbors department held a public meeting Wednesday regarding the rebuilding of Aurora Harbor.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Aurora Harbor, below, and Harris Harbor, center, line Egan Drive in downtown Juneau. The city's Docks and Harbors department held a public meeting Wednesday regarding the rebuilding of Aurora Harbor.

The public heard an update on the Aurora Harbor Master Plan Wednesday as the project moves closer to its final design.

The $10 million first phase aims to increase moorage slips for larger, commercial vessels, while realigning the headwalk that runs along the inside of the harbor. But as boat sizes increase, stall width and finger floats also increase in size.

Larger finger and main floats are few of the changes coming to the harbor.

“Overall it accomplished what the original objective was — to reduce smaller vessels,” said Dick Somerville, PND Engineers, Inc. Vice President, Juneau.

Existing capacity for 24-foot vessels is 184 with a proposed capacity of 75. However, 32-foot slips increased to 135 from 125 along with the additional space for 85- and 100-foot commercial vessels.

Covered moorage remains at 42 slips with the exception of slight relocations.

“We’ve been able to increase the real high-end a little bit,” Somerville said, “and increased the 32-footers a moderate amount.”

The plan was adopted in January with one caveat. The City and Borough of Juneau Docks and Harbors Board sought to combine an original two-phase portion of the project into the current $10 million phase that comprises the five most Southern mooring floats.

The Northern floats are part of future phases at a projected $11.8 million.

“The harbor board wanted to spend more money on the first phase,” Somerville said, “so they combined Phases One and Two at the time and turned that into Phase One.”

The combination of phases was the only major change since the public saw the plans in three previous meetings.

Presented to the public were four separate plans that provided maximum berth width while maintaining current berth numbers and configurations; provided a balance between berth width and finger width while maintaining current berths; provided maximum berth widths on the two most southern floats while losing six berths or at the cost of losing two, respectively.

Full cut-off LED lighting similar to that used at Statter Harbor will replace current, glare-inducing lights. More durable float sections and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility were built into the plan.

Unlike Statter Harbor, float unit sections will be fabricated from polyurethane rather than cement, and are covered in timber above water. Bullrail gaps are planned throughout to comply with ADA standards.

Smaller vessels will still have access to the unassigned spaces along the headwalk, although some of the members present at the meeting wondered whether those spaces would eventually be assigned.

Participant wondered about the later stages of the project and when the northern phases would be completed. By March 2014, a contractor will be chosen for the Phase One of the project with construction beginning in October of that year. The latter phases have yet to receive funding.

“It’s a 50-year-old facility,” said Carl Uchytil, CBJ Docks and Harbors Port Director. “And we’re looking to rebuild something for the next 50 years. Opportunities like this don’t come up very often.”

Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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