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$10 million Aurora Harbor rebuild underway

If you passed by Aurora Harbor right now, you’d see rows of empty boat slips and a spot where an excavator has ripped open the asphalt in the parking lot to expose the pipes below. It’s part of a Juneau Docks and Harbors project to replace the aging floats and walkways in the southern section of the harbor.

The dock replacement project began Oct. 1. Erich Schaal is deputy port engineer and oversees construction. He says that it’s the right time for an update.

“It was built by the state back in the ’60s, so it’s outlived its useful life,” Schaal says. “We are seeing floats that are sinking, floats that are twisting. So we are replacing about the southern third of the entire harbor, so it’ll be demolished here soon and new floats will be installed and boats will move back in the spring.”

And they will make more changes by the end of May, the expected wrap-up date.

“We have a new water system going in, upgraded electrical. There is going be a new all-season sewage pump-out facility,” says Schaal. “We want to have good, clean water and good, clean services in the harbor, so we’re going to have a facility that will allow live aboards as well as transient or moving vessels.”

The $10 million project is being paid for from three sources.

“There’s a grant (from) the state,” says Schaal. “There’s some fund balance, some money that docks and harbors has saved in anticipation of this, and then there’s some sales tax money that’s paying for this as well.”

That’s 1 percent sales tax money Juneau voters approved in 2012.

David Borg is the harbormaster. He says construction displaced about 134 boats, including a handful of live aboards. They were moved to Harris Harbor, Douglas Harbor or the other end of the Aurora Harbor.

Docks and Harbors hopes to also repair the northern Aurora Harbor docks if the money becomes available.

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