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Fisheries building under way, approval for funding pending

Regents to decide today whether they will OK $1.7 million for project

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2007

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As federal scientists and administrators moved plants and office supplies into the new Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute, construction workers Wednesday were laying the foundation for the University of Alaska Fairbanks' ocean sciences facility next door.

The 30,600 square-foot, three-story building will house offices, classrooms and laboratories for faculty and graduate students researching Alaska's fisheries.

"We are going to be near capacity when we move in," Tony Gharrett, professor of fisheries, said during a site tour Wednesday.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents will decide today whether to approve a $1.7 million budget increase for the project, Gharrett noted. Approval would put the budget at $26.2 million.

A walkway will join the neighboring science and research buildings, and they will share some facilities, including a a seawater filtering system. The two buildings are located as close together as possible, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility next door has tighter security restrictions.

"They need to be able to lock down," Gharrett said.

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The UAF building's foundation is now being laid, with structural steel arriving in a few weeks, said Karl Petterson, the project manager.

"Hopefully (the building) will be getting closed in prior to bad weather," he said.

It's expected to be complete by September 2008, he said.

The School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences has been operating in Juneau for more than 20 years, offering the only graduate program in fisheries in Alaska. According to the university, it has awarded more than 150 degrees, with many graduates going on to work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The program's faculty and students are split between the University of Alaska Southeast and leased sites roughly one mile from campus. Putting the program under one roof near the federal facility will help create a synergy that's invaluable for research, Gharrett said.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com or 523-2276.



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