Lowell Point Road Is OPEN!

Phase 1 of the City of Seward’s Lowell Point Electrical Upgrade project is now complete, so the daily road closures are over! Phases 2 and 3 of this project remain, but impact on road traffic will be (better be!) minimal from here on out.

Last post about this project I called it “Classic” and it has lived up to that title thus far. First, the notice announced work would begin on Monday 3/29/10 at 8am. Residents were quite angry to discover, after making arrangements to deal with a closed road – Monday 3/29 was an Alaska State Holiday, so of course no City work would be conducted. Tuesday, 3/30 crews started promptly at 8am. Since we were promised passage when they were working in a wide section of the road, and they were working in a wide section, residents were further angered when traffic was not allowed to pass. When I called to find out what was going on, and pointed out that it was only the 1st or 2nd day and “it’s already getting ugly,” I was met with agreement and promised a phone call once the problem was identified.

The follow-up call marked the beginning of a month-long series of conversations that would include “Welllllll, we can’t let traffic by because _________” (fill in the blank). They may have put in writing that they would accommodate traffic whenever they could – but in reality, they never would, even when they could! (It didn’t help that at some point during the project, rather early on, someone (a local, most likely a neighbor) pushed too hard to get by, thereby ruining all chances for accommodation, for everyone.)

Work continued that first week till the excavator broke. That repair took a day and a half, so we lucked out and the road was passable while we waited. Several times that first week I went to “get in line” at 4:45pm to go to town only to discover the crews were already gone. How frustrating that was to have postponed errands and appointments and then to discover that the road had been passable! For how long, we had no clue.

At the end of the first week they were proud of their work – all 2 1/2 days worth. The second week they ran out of parts, so work ceased. Then, on Good Friday, parts in hand, when the rest of our country has knocked off at noon, these folks worked right up to and even a few minutes after 5pm. They worked 3 1/2 days the second week.

So the project went. Locals and visitors, customers and residents all put up with the disruption, every day watching them move closer to what was clearly the wide section, looking forward to them keeping their word of allowing passage.

At the end of the 3rd week they’d almost reached the indisputably “wide” section of the road, and they’d be out of the City limits, so out of their jurisdiction. Everyone expected some accommodation of traffic.  When I called to discuss the coming week’s schedule because of our busy customer schedule, I heard the most infernal and annoying “Weeellllll we can’t because ______”  list of excuses. I’m sure the guy has been to a seminar on “How to Blow Off the Public in 3 Easy Lessons.” Ironically, the next day they had to quit work for the day (week) because they ran into “a problem.”

We want to thank all our customers who, all with great cheer, accommodated the recent treatment of the City of Seward Electric Department.  We had customers forced to leave at 8am because they did not have the liberty of staying till Noon (we offered).  We had others, who were road weary and anxious to arrive, only to discover they could not check in at 4pm as planned. Stay-over guests had to adapt their schedules, going to town at Noon and then having to rush to get back by 1pm or being forced to stay in town till 5pm.

We were to be “in the know” but after the first two weeks communication was rare and the last week, non-existent. We pleaded on behalf of all our customers for a 10am opening that last week. We were ignored.  We’re thankful that this phase of the project is over.

The remaining phases involve pulling the wire though the cable and vaults they just buried, then connecting the new wire to power. Both phases are delayed till further notice as they wait for the wire.  Once the wire arrives, the pulling of the wire will involve opening up each of the 8 vaults that they buried, which may (will) involve some road work.  Given that we are almost into peak Visitor Season, there is every expectation that traffic will have to be accommodated and allowed to pass in some kind of intervals. Once that part of the project is complete we will have to brace ourselves for power outages; we’re hopeful that will be insignificantly disruptive.

Thank you Dear Reader, till next time!

P.s. We welcome your comments and questions (the link is at the top)

Lowell Point’s “Classic” Electrical Project

Road Closed Sign at City end of Lowell Point Road

The City of Seward’s Electrical Department is desperate to replace the underground cable that feeds Lowell Point its power. Currently, there is a single 3-wire line feeding power to Lowell Point; only 1 of the 3 legs of that wire is working. Should that last wire fail, all power to Lowell Point would be lost. At first blush, to hear the folks from the Electric Dept. speak of their high level of concern, one might think of them as altruistic, caring so about the power failing for the residents and businesses of Lowell Point. The way the City of Seward has treated us though, begs the question-who are they really doing this for? We all understand how important this project is, but the wanton disregard for the residents, customers, service providers, and vendors of Lowell Point in the planning and scheduling of the project has been a slap in the face. The Public Notice about the Road Closure is anything but considerate or caring, of anyone but themselves. No consideration was given to the elderly resident requiring a constant supply of  oxygen, to the school children, to trash collection, or the requirements of several businesses, ours included, that rely on Lowell Point Road for access. As one outraged neighbor pointed out, their interest in getting the job done is more likely self-serving: The City of Seward’s septic pond sits on Lowell Point.

Excavator and other City Equipment

In any event, this work is now being tackled by the City’s Electrical Department. The Public Notice  (and small white signs on the Road Closed sign) states that Lowell Point Road will be closed Mon through Sat from 8:00 am to Noon and from 1:00 to 5:00pm. It goes on to state that the work will continue for as long as 2 months and will also include power outages.

Since the Public Notice was first issued we have received some concessions. If the City keeps its word, all things considered, these concessions should keep the project from having much impact on visitors to Lowell Point, and Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, LLC customers.

According to the head of the department, the only time the road closure will really be restricted to 8-12 and 1-5 are the times when the crew is working in a narrow section of the road. There are several spots that are really one lane, but the majority of Lowell Point Road is 2 lanes, and we’ve been promised that when work is occurring in the wider sections of the road, traffic will be allowed to pass. You may have to wait a few minutes, but a little patience should be all that’s necessary.

PLEASE NOTE: They have not funded a flagger or road crew for this project. So, regardless of where they are working, they are going to have the “Road Closed” signs displayed. Those “in the know” will know whether it’s possible to get past, or if it will be necessary to wait for the Noon opening or end of day.

We hope to be “in the know” at all times, and will keep our Twitter feed (subscribe to receive our tweets), Facebook status feed (become a fan to receive notices), and this Blog up to date (search for Travel Alerts to find the most recent post or subscribe to be notified of new posts). We’re also normally just a phone call away.

After the first week, “Classic” is a fitting word to describe the project. They said work would begin on Monday 3/29; but that was an Alaska holiday, so they didn’t work. Tuesday they were not in a narrow section of the road, so many were surprised to discover they could not pass. Crews were trenching across the road, and had failed to mention that as another reason to restrict traffic flow. Wednesday they didn’t work at all because the “vaults” they are installing hadn’t arrived. Thursday they worked part of the day, till the excavator broke down. Friday they started late because they had to repair the excavator. Then, even though it was Good Friday, they worked till end of day.

Looking North at the excavator and other equipment

Crews are not working Saturdays at this time. They’ve asked to reserve the last 2 Saturdays in April as possible work days, but we won’t know about that till we’re closer in time. If they’re not in a narrow part of the road there should be little impact, even on Saturdays.

There are numerous other options in place to make getting back and forth to town easier should folks need them. There is free parking at the North end of Lowell Point Road and also in the boat harbor. Folks can leave their cars and walk or water taxi, or bike. Although the City has been asked to fund water taxis, at this time all they’ve agreed to do is waive the $3.50 port fee.

We’re hopeful this project will proceed smoothly and disruption to our guests will be minimal. We’re monitoring the situation daily and will help our guests in whatever ways we can to minimize the disruption of schedules. For example, on a day where the closure will be strict, we’ll extend check-out times till Noon. We will also allow early check-ins if possible (this is only possible if the unit was unoccupied the night before).

Regarding the days with power outages, at this time those days are not scheduled. We’ve been told the disruptions will be minimal. We’re hopeful that’s accurate.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this work by the City of Seward may cause our guests, visitors, staff, suppliers, and vendors. Please don’t hesitate contacting us for up to date information!