A major reconstruction of Petersburg’s downtown streets is on track to start up this September. Two companies submitted bids to do the concrete road and sidewalk work and the state expects to award the construction contract next month.

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Two companies submitted bids to do the work. SECON, a company with offices in Juneau and Ketchikan, was the apparent low bidder at three point seven million dollars. That’s about 200-thousand dollars under the bid from Petersburg’s Rock N Road.

“The bids were a little higher than we anticipated about 5-6, six hundred thousand,” said Dan Noziska, the construction project manager with the state’s Department of Transportation. “But we feel we have the money. The budget’s there and so we’re planning to, there’s still an evaluation process since the bids were just opened Friday.”

The state will evaluate the bids and review the budget for the project and plans to award the project, barring any protests, in several weeks. It’s a joint project involving the state and the city, using a four million dollar federal earmark. It’ll mean new concrete roadway and sidewalks for north Nordic from Haugen Drive to the Icicle Seafoods plant. Dolphin and Excell streets could see some repaving as well. The work will also upgrade the storm drainage system and the city is redoing some of the sewer line underneath the street during the project.

KFSK file photo

The first work that will happen is the stretch of main street from Dolphin Street, one block north to the Icicle Seafoods plant. That’s scheduled to start up the first week in September. Work will last until November 20. There will be a shutdown for the holiday shopping season and winter weather. Construction will start up again in the spring, with a break for Mayfest and the Fourth of July holidays. The project is scheduled for completion at the end of October 2013.

Noziska said the contractor is required to keep access open for drivers and pedestrians. “They’re supposed to maintain at least one lane of traffic even through the construction area,” he said. So even though one of the phases is under construction, there should be at least one way of traffic through there, so that people can still get to the businesses.”

Nevertheless, state and local officials acknowledge there will be disruptions from the work. They plan to hold monthly informational meetings for locals to express concerns or find out more about the project schedule.  In planning for the project, citizens and business owners were concerned about street closures affecting businesses and blocking tractor trailer access to the three downtown fish processing companies.

“Well the project has been coming for a long time and I think a lot of folks that will be impacted are aware but it will some disruption in the downtown area for an extended period of time,” said Petersburg’s public works director Karl Hagerman. He asked people to be patient and doesn’t want anyone to avoid shopping in town. “Many people have business in downtown Petersburg and we’d surely want to encourage them not to change their habits of where they do their business,” he said. “If you can possibly avoid if you don’t absolutely have to go through downtown to get to one area of the community then you probably should. But I really wanna emphasize that the businesses downtown depend on the locals and visitors for their livelihood. There are allowances in the project to have access to the businesses at all times.”

Ultimately, Hagerman says the work will dress up Petersburg’s downtown area. “We already get quite a few comments from folks that believe Petersburg’s downtown area is fairly clean. I think this is going to definitely improve it,” he said. “It’ll be a big step forward and future paving projects will be able to branch out from that downtown area and just capture more and more of the core area of Petersburg. I think it’s a big first step and one I’ve been looking forward to.”

The city is providing matching money for the federal funds that will pay for the project. Petersburg’s contribution is just over nine percent of the four million dollar federal earmark, or under four hundred thousand dollars. The state this year also agreed to kick in some additional federal funding over $750,000 to help meet the project budget.