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Municipality names new port project manager

By Emily Carlson 4:50 PM January 3, 2014

CH2M Hill said they're worth the $30 million they want to fix the mess they've been handed.

ANCHORAGE – The troubled Port of Anchorage finally took a step toward completion this week after faulty construction, poor project management and years of delays.

Thursday, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan announced a new project manager who will lead the charge to finish the port expansion project. The company, CH2M Hill, said they’re worth the $30 million they want to fix the mess they’ve been handed.

Since the port expansion began in 2001, construction issues and costs have piled up.

“We’re really Band-Aiding a problem that if we don’t take this action and improve the port for the next 75 years or so, we could find ourselves with a catastrophic event at some point,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan announced new leaders for the new direction of the port. CH2M Hill was selected as project managers, a task they say they’re ready to take on.

“CH2M Hill has worked on projects in highly seismic areas such as this, which is going to be very important in ensuring that we’re developing a project that is a modern and safe and efficient port complex,” said CH2M Hill Vice President Stacey Jones.

CH2M Hill is no stranger at the port. The company led the study that found the original expansion design was faulty. The municipality also paid the design firm $500,000 to draw new designs that could end up shaping what the expansion project looks like.

“That’s what made probably our team more advantageous in terms of selection,” Jones said. “We can hit the ground running, there’s no learning curve necessary.”

CH2M Hill’s contract with the municipality is worth $30 million over five years. The mayor said the money will come from the $130 million pot of federal, state and port money leftover from the original expansion project. The mayor said CH2M Hill is worth the high price tag because they are not only rebuilding, but unbuilding as well.

“There is some work that was done that was solid,” Sullivan said. “A lot of the land that’s been created is going to remain. The north end in initial review looks to be useable, but there will be some work that needs to be undone.”

After years of delays, faulty construction, and millions of dollars in budget overruns at the port, CH2M Hill made a promise.

“We’ll be able to successfully execute this program on schedule and on budget,” Jones said.

The Anchorage Assembly still needs to approve the contract. Assembly members will vote on that at their next meeting. The next step is to choose a design. The mayor hopes to start construction in 2016.

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