Work resumes on Bethel’s boat launch ramps

by Ben Matheson on December 3, 2013

Work at the south launch ramp / Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK

Work at the south launch ramp / Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK

Bethel’s small boat harbor is frozen over, and the two launch ramps have not gone in. The contractor, Denali Drilling struggled this fall with an overflowing, underperforming coffer dam. After discussions with the Corps of Engineers, work is underway, with a target completion date of January 31st.

The project was supposed to be done by December 1st. It was on hiatus several weeks while the corps and contractor regrouped and built a new plan. Crews will employ winter construction techniques to deal with ice and frozen ground.

Port Director Peter Williams says the change in seasons has made it possible to work, with the water dropping about 3 feet in a week.

“Now that everything’s frozen up around it, they won’t have as much water, there will be water to pump out, but they won’t have the continual problem of tide and this real bad weather we’ve had the last part of the season hampering them,” said Williams.

Crews will lay down gravel beneath ramps that has to be warm to be able to compact it. Crews will first put down wood planks and then large precast concrete planks on top. Williams says things should move quickly as work resumes.

“They should be able to get it pumped out, dried out, and then were told on the coffer dam itself, they were going to come up with a new approach, and exactly what that is, we’ll have to wait and see what they do,” said Williams.

The contractor did not have time to build a coffer dam on the north launch. The Corps of Engineers declined all comment, except to say that quote “there are unexpected challenges with every project. In this case, we’re working with the contractor to resolve some key issues and ensure that the requirements of the contract are met. Ultimately, our goal is to provide the community with a quality project that is built to last.”

The ramps will complete phase one of work. Phase two includes stabilizing embankments and working on the entrance channel.

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