Work on fisheries center road begins this week

Feds evaluating how to build center after bids exceed expected cost

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2002

A city contractor starts work on a new Lena Point road this week as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration continues to evaluate the best way to build a new fisheries center there.

Work on the NOAA fisheries center was to have started this month, but the low bid on the project was $6 million higher than the $36 million construction cost estimate.

The three bids on the project were due to expire today, but the agency has received extensions from the construction firms, contract specialist Judi Jzyk said. Low bidder Cornerstone Construction of Anchorage is giving the agency through Aug. 6 to decide how to proceed, she said.

"We're waiting on NOAA headquarters as far as which direction we're going to go," she said.

NOAA officials have said the new fisheries center will be built, it's just a matter of how and when.

"From a fisheries standpoint, the project is still 100 percent a go," NOAA project manager Ken Bircher said Friday.

As envisioned, the 69,000-square-foot Lena Point fisheries center and lab will have room for about 100 National Marine Fisheries Service employees, many of whom work at the Auke Bay lab.

Meanwhile, clearing for a 1.2-mile road to the fisheries center is scheduled to start Tuesday, according to Ed Johnson, Secon operations manager. Secon is the contractor for the project with Channel Construction as the major subcontractor.

"We'll have a couple of weeks of clearing before the heavier work starts," he said. "The overall completion date is slated for June 1 of next year. We expect to work out there fairly late, into November, if the weather permits."

Secon is hosting a public meeting about the road project at 7 tonight at Smith Hall at Chapel by the Lake, Ed Johnson said.

The city also is developing plans for a 45-acre subdivision on the southern end of Lena Point, city lands and resources officer Cynthia Johnson told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

"In the mid-'90s, we identified Lena lands as suitable for disposal for community expansion and housing," she said. "Since then we have added a water reservoir and there's a road under development. Of the 180 acres we own ... we're focusing on the southern acreage. That gives us about 50 acres."

The Juneau Assembly will spend more time looking at the subdivision plans at an upcoming work session, she said. The Juneau Planning Commission asked for more discussion after hearing concerns from neighbors about sewage treatment and the need for a comprehensive plan for the area.

This spring, the Assembly will decide exactly how the city will sell the land, Cynthia Johnson added. The NOAA fisheries center will share the new road and utilities with University of Alaska Fairbanks fisheries center planned close by, according to University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor John Pugh. Voters will see $9 million in funding for the $20 million project in a statewide bond package this fall, he said.

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