(Gabe Thomas)

(Gabe Thomas)

After years in the making, the plan to expand Haines’ small boat harbor is coming to fruition. The Haines Borough Port and Harbor Advisory Committee reviewed and approved the Portage Cove Harbor expansion draft bid documents at a meeting this week.  The $20-million first phase of the harbor project will go out to bid later this month.

The port and harbor meeting on Wednesday was short and sweet. The committee had a few questions about the harbor expansion draft bid documents drawn up by PND Engineering, but chair Norm Hughes said overall, he’s pleased with the preliminary paperwork.

“At first look, it looked pretty good to me,” Hughes said. “It looks pretty thorough and it looks like we’re within budget, considerably.”

The committee approved the draft, with one amendment. The replacement of nine pilings, or supports, on the F Dock were in the draft as an add alternate, but at the behest of harbormaster Shawn Bell, the committee voted to move that job into the base bid, which is just over $18.5 million. There was about $19.5 million to spend from the State on Phase 1 of the expansion project, though a little of that has been chipped away  over the years. But, harbormaster Bell told the committee that most of those engineering costs are included in the estimate distributed to the group.

With any leftover money – depending on how the bid process shakes out this fall – there’s the opportunity to include add alternates in the initial phase. Phase 1 includes the wave barrier, dredging and development of the parking lot. Public Facilities Director Brad Ryan said there’s a list of extra features if funds allow, but it’s likely only one, maybe two, will make it into the initial phase.

“So, additional dredging in the inner harbor, anodes on the wave barrier and then the third one is an additional 33 feet of wave barrier, but we really don’t have any hope of thinking that will actually come up,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he and Bell will meet with PND and give some feedback on the draft documents in the coming days. The engineers will make any changes and then the project will go out to bid. Ryan said aside from the F-Dock pilings getting moved into the base bid, and gravel to cap the parking lot, there aren’t any significant changes coming from the borough.

“We’d like to be fully done with the bid documents no later than the 25 of August. It’d be great if we could go out for advertisement  a little bit earlier and have a bid opening on the 21 of September which then lines up with the assembly meeting for the 27 of September. It may not happen. It may move to the October meeting for the assembly to OK the contract.”

Ryan said, the best case scenario for completion of Phase 1 is sometime in 2018.

As for future phases, which are years off, Ryan said things are looking up. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is still on board with a matching grant for the sport ramp. They also recently agreed to throw in an extra $300,000 to move Lookout Park. Ryan said even though they don’t have anything in writing yet, ADF&G is excited about the project. The agency has committed upwards of $3 million to the development.

“They say they’re going to have it for us and they keep upping the dollar amount, I hope it’s real,” he said. “When we get something in writing then it’ll be something to hang our hat on.”

Future phases also include a drive-down float and the floats themselves, but Ryan said the priority order depends on where they can dig up funding. The project is hoping to utilize Cruise Passenger Vessel head tax money for a water-front trail and more aesthetic improvements, but Ryan said the Cruise Line International Association of Alaska is balking a little at the borough’s pitch.

“They just need a little more explanation, and I hope that goes well.”

There were a few members of the public that spoke out at the meeting including Evelyna Vignola, who has voiced ongoing objection to the project.

“I guess I can’t walk out the door without saying once more that I don’t love this design,” she said. “And I think it has problems for the town – size wise, money wise – in all kinds of ways.”

The 95 percent design was approved by the assembly in April.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the committee reviewed a draft request for proposals for the Lutak Dock repair. The infrastructure has been crumbling for years and according to a study done two years ago, is at the end of the its credible lifespan. The RFP is for a conceptual design and Ryan said he’s hoping to release that in the next week.

“We’ll leave it open for a month, essentially,” he said. “We’ll time it with the assembly meetings so it might be four weeks, it might be three-and- a-half. We’ll award the contract to whoever the selection committee chooses, and we’ll set a timeframe in that contract of the deliverables. Hopefully, when they give us a proposal, we’ll see some sort of proposed timeframe.”

At the meeting, assembly liaison Margaret Friedenauer noted that there is a requirement in the draft RFP that says the design will go through a minimum of three public meetings during the working stage, and one when the final design in brought forward.

Find a link to the small boat harbor documents here, and the Lutak Dock draft RFP here.