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My turn: No stimulus funds used for needed Douglas project

Posted: June 27, 2011 - 7:51pm  |  Updated: June 29, 2011 - 6:05am

The Juneau Empire had two opinion pieces last week regarding the North Douglas Repaving Project; a Letter to the Editor by Steve Irwin thanking the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (AK DOT&PF) and recognizing the value of the work being done; and a My Turn by Margo Waring, expressing her displeasure with the project.

We empathize with the inevitable disruptive process of road construction and repair that occurs every summer in our state. We take great pride in the work we do and appreciate the opportunity to correct a few misconceptions. Alaska provides unique geographic and climatic challenges for AK DOT&PF and it’s important to us that the public understands the process we go through. Our goal is to minimize negative impacts and effects of construction while achieving the positive end result of an improved road.

Our mission is to “get Alaska moving through service and infrastructure.” This translates into maintaining, improving and expanding our transportation infrastructure to the best of our professional ability, while maximizing available funds.

AK DOT&PF engineers and hydrologists thoroughly inspected the existing culverts to determine their course of action. A few property owners, who would be affected by the construction, were informed that the project would require clearing some trees along the DOT&PF right of way.

As a side note, when replacing mailboxes, the U.S. Postal Service and our department require a specific standard for safety and functionality. For more information on these standards please visit http://bit.ly/lVYJMN.

The North Douglas Highway needed to be resurfaced and improved. Culverts dating back to 1956 and 1972 had reached the end of their useful life. A thorough field evaluation of these culverts indicated the majority of them were severely corroded and failing. This project provided the opportunity to replace these culverts at a lower cost while the road was torn up, versus replacing them later.

Our engineers realized the time, cost and resources required to repair North Douglas Highway was increasing substantially. Further wear on the road would have resulted in further degradation of the base of the highway, requiring extensive reconstruction. By repaving now we are able to preserve the protective surface of the highway and avoid costly reconstructing in the coming years.

This project was funded with state and federal funds through the Surface Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The STIP process includes a statewide panel who score numerous projects to decide which ones will be funded with our federal funds. This project did not use stimulus dollars. It was identified by AK DOT&PF Maintenance and Operations division as a need and was on our STIP list for several years. It was supported by the City and Borough of Juneau in March, 2009 with Resolution 2463.

Know that AK DOT&PF has three core values: integrity, excellence and respect. We continue to express these values as we work to maintain and expand Alaska’s vital transportation infrastructure. You may learn more about DOT&PF projects at www.dot.state.ak.us.

• Davis is Southeast regional director of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

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