By Malcom Menzies
July 04, 2007
The Gravina Island Road is not being developed solely for the benefit of a handful of landowners. To the contrary, it will be a public road which will provide access to more than 1,000 acres of sorely needed developable land on the island. It is a component of the Gravina Access Project and part of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough master plan, which was developed by the community leaders after much public input and open deliberation.
The project has no direct benefit to any timber activities and would not provide access to the remote land on the island that is owned by the previous governor.
As to the cost of the project, it is indeed expensive. Unfortunately, it is not out of line with the high cost of road construction in Alaska and in fact is cheaper per mile than the current Tongass Highway projects.
Because Gravina road is a design-build project, the $25.7 million cost includes design and environmental costs that would not normally be shown in more traditional design/bid/build road projects.
If you remove the engineering design and environmental permitting costs ($3.5 million) and the two bridges ($5.5 million) from Gravina Road, you can compare the construction costs with other Ketchikan projects now underway. By doing that you find that it costs $4.9 million per mile to construct the 3.4 mile road. By contrast, South Tongass Highway, which is currently under construction, costs $5.1 million per mile. The North Tongass Highway project costs $6.1 million per mile. Both of these projects are paved reconstructions and less than two miles in length, but the type of work is similar enough to compare. While Gravina Road is cheaper than the two projects mentioned above, no doubt all are expensive. It is a fact of Alaskan life that road construction up here is an expensive proposition. I share Mr Hoff's wish that it wasn't the case.
About: Malcom Menzies is the Alaska Departmnet of Transportation & Public Facilities Southeast Region Director.
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