Old reservations building makes way for new projects

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2001

Open house for new AMH office Wednesday

The new Alaska Marine Highway reservations office near Switzer Creek opens Wednesday with demolition of the old office near Juneau-Douglas High School to follow this summer.

An open house at the new office at 6858 Glacier Highway, next to the Department of Transportation building at 7-mile Glacier Highway, will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. DOT Commissioner Joseph Perkins and Capt. Bob Doll, regional director for the Southeast region of DOT, will speak and refreshments will be served.

"I think the new facility provides a convenient location for all of Juneau, and it's a great improvement over the old facility," said Capt. Norm Edwards, operations manager for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Contract cost for the building was $1.7 million. The two-story, 8,400-square-foot building will house 22 permanent and seasonal employees. Reservations also will continue to be taken at the Auke Bay ferry terminal.

The old ticket office at 1591 Glacier Avenue, a 1930s building near the downtown school complex, will be torn down, said Catherine Fritz, city architect.

"We are in the process of preparing documents for bidding for the demolition of that building and a couple of other old buildings on site that all need to go away. We hope to have a contractor there by mid July," Fritz said.

Research into the structure found that it has 8-foot-deep concrete foundations, removal of which would leave a substantial pit, Fritz noted. "We may stop at 6 feet because we don't have a firm and fast concept for the site. If a large play field goes in there, we would need 3-4 feet for utilities and 5-6 feet for a drainage system. We are in the process of deciding now (how deep the excavation will go)," she said.

As demolition progresses, soil will be tested, plot by plot, for petroleum contamination. If all goes well, the site could be cleared in six to eight weeks. "We are optimistic that it will be cleared by Oct. 1 at the latest," Fritz said.

After the site is cleared, both the north and sound ends of it will continue to be used for parking. The center of the site will be used for construction trailers, staging and materials for the proposed $9 million renovation of the high school, a two-year project.

The long-term goal of the school district is to restructure parking in front of Harborview Elementary and the former Marie Drake Middle School, now largely used by JDHS, improving the entrance to Marie Drake and developing the cleared ferry building site into a playing field. That would be a $1 million project, for which funds have not been allocated.

"So we are three years out from even having the option to develop it as a playing field," she said.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.

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