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Contact: Laura Sturtz, (907) 422-0528
The National Park Service has awarded a $2.6 million contract to renovate the Old Solly's Building as the park headquarters in downtown Seward and the U.S. Department of Transportation - Western Federal Lands Highways Division has awarded an $800,000 contract to repair road damage and test an interim solution to the road flooding on the Herman Leirer Road within the park at Exit Glacier.
Old Solly's Building
Blazy Construction of Soldotna, Alaska will make significant repairs to the Old Solly's building in downtown Seward, preparing it for occupancy by the park administrative staff. The work, which began in early August, will allow the park to consolidate operations that are now spread among several facilities in Seward.
The rehabilitative work will include structural improvements to the roof, exterior siding, and interior spaces; improvements for accessibility, including the addition of an elevator; and installation of new mechanical and electrical systems. The work will continue through the winter and is expected to be substantially completed by May 2013.
The National Park Service owns five properties in the downtown Seward area, all purchased in 2005 as directed by Congress during the development of the proposed Mary Lowell Center, a multi-agency facility that would have provided visitor facilities, administrative offices for two agencies, and a small conference center for the City of Seward. Insufficient funds are available to complete the full suite of projects originally proposed for the Mary Lowell Center.
The Old Solly's project uses existing funding to meet the park's most pressing needs. Three of the original five lots in downtown Seward are now considered excess to the park's administrative needs and NPS is moving forward with a process to excess them. The Old Solly's building will become the park's new headquarters and will include a small visitor area for winter and shoulder season visitors to Seward. Visitors to Seward during the summer months will continue to enjoy a full array of services at the visitor contact station in the small boat harbor. The exterior appearance of the Old Solly's building will complement the character of other downtown buildings with a blending of traditional siding and paint finishes.
The short alley between Washington and Railway will not be accessible during construction and street parking on Washington has been altered to allow continued use of the alley north of Washington by delivery trucks.
Herman Leirer Road (Exit Glacier Access)
Bristol Engineering Services of Anchorage, Alaska has been awarded a contract to undertake road repair and armoring along a one mile stretch of the road to the Exit Glacier area of Kenai Fjords National Park. Visiting Exit Glacier is one of the park's iconic visitor experiences and in the last four years, the road accessing this area has been subject to mid-summer/fair weather flooding which has been outside the historic norms. Rather than seek a traditional reactive solution to the issue, park management has been working with highway engineers to develop and test interim solutions pending further study of this dynamic glacial system. The interim solution will involve the use of concrete barriers to keep the water from crossing the road and potentially develop new channels on the south side of the road.
Work on the road will begin after September 1 to take advantage of the reduced glacial melt and reduced levels of visitation. The Exit Glacier area will remain open during construction, although there may be short delays.
Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 and encompasses about 670,000 acres on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. The park sees about 280,000 recreational visits each year. We look forward to completing these improvements in our park so that our visitors are better and more safely served.