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City Of Unalaska Seeks Permit For Captain's Bay Road Project

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Berett Wilber/KUCB
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Today is the deadline to submit public comment on the city's permit application for its roughly $54 million dollar Captain's Bay Road project. 

The proposed project includes realignment of the road, upgrades to drainage and utilities and about two and a half miles of pavement, which will be laid between Agnes Beach and Offshore Systems Inc., a fuel and dock facility in Captain's Bay. 

The City of Unalaska has to get permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the work and has submitted a permit application to the Corps. 

The public notice for that application expires today.

Much of the work will eventually be done in the water. According to city engineer Bob Cummings, the Corps will be looking at several aspects of the project before construction begins, but mainly they'll address something called "compensatory mitigation."

"[It's] Basically how much material we put in the water," Cummings said. "And so depending on how much material we put in the water, we have to then identify projects that would mitigate that fill. And so we're in the process of identifying projects for that process."

The Corps will also be looking at cultural and natural resources — like historic buildings and boats, endangered species and fish habitats — that might be affected by the project.

The public notice is meant to invite local tribes to participate in the federal decision making process. People submitting public comments can also request a public hearing to consider the application.

Cummings said it's difficult to estimate how long it will take for the Corps to issue the permit, but he estimates roughly six months. 

The city is still waiting on other pieces of the puzzle, such as funding and financial analyses, so Cummings said it's likely the permit will be issued long before they actually begin any construction.

Department of Public Works Director Tom Cohenour said the city was denied their last funding request through the State Transportation Improvement Program because the $54 million they asked for was too high. To offset those costs, he said the city will approach the project in phases and reapply for funding.

"The first phase is what we call 'safety improvements,'" Cohenour said. "And that would be going around Dead Man's Curve and fixing that safety hazard."

The soonest they would begin construction for the first phase would likely be next summer, according to Cohenour.

The city is also developing a cost benefit analysis that he said will hopefully help them obtain state funding. 

For more information or to submit public comments, email Jen Martin at Jen.L.Martin@usace.army.mil.

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