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)

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