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There's what might be perceived as a silent alarm ringing in Ketchikan.
City officials hear it, and are trying to respond and get others to as well.
Ketchikan supports infrastructure and economic development — hydroelectric energy and its shipyard. It supports the arts. But public safety is preeminent.
Ketchikan would love to have a performing arts center. It would be grand. A downtown location has been picked out — the old Fireside building on Main Street. That building, in its heyday, was grand, too.
It's fun to imagine it coming alive again, with the remarkable performances for which locals are known — no second-rate doings in K-town. First City Players and other performing arts groups here delight their audiences year in and year out.
The performing arts center is one of seven capital projects on the Legislative Liaison list composed by the cities of Ketchikan and Saxman, and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. Currently, the projects are in no particular order. But not for lack of trying by the Liaison committee, which consisted of four representatives from Ketchikan and two from Saxman. As the list stands, it will be sent to Gov. Sean Parnell and the Legislature without being prioritized.
Performing Arts project spokespeople are thrilled to be in the top seven on the list, and gracious about it, too, acknowledging that perhaps it would be OK if community public safety projects precede it.
One of the two public safety projects at the top of the list doesn't garner much excitement — yet. It will if it breaks down, which it is threatening to do.
Ketchikan's municipal bridges and trestles are deteriorating at an alarming rate, according to city officials.
Five bridges are weight restricted or shut down. Another 12 bridges are in various stages of disrepair. Deficiencies include inadequate pile foundations, failing wooden structure, deteriorating deck panels and lack of seismic stability.
The city expects it will have to spend $28 million to repair or replace four bridges and trestles before 2017.
Most prominent among them is a 1,000-foot section of the Water Street Trestle. It provides emergency vehicle access to 26 residences and serves as an arterial for all comings and goings in the area.
This trestle is expected to cost $22 million to replace both its concrete and timber components.
It is listed in the 2012-2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
The state Department of Transportation has hired R&M Consultants Inc. of Anchorage, in conjunction with Shearer Design LLC of Seattle, to design the new structure.
Design, of course, is the first phase. The second will be utilities, which are scheduled for 2013, and construction of a new trestle is slated for 2014.
Gov. Parnell provided $9.2 million in the fiscal 2013 capital budget for the project. Another $12.7 million is being sought in the upcoming legislative session.
This project is critical to public safety, not just to those who walk or drive over the trestle, but to the residents living in the area who might need ambulance, fire or police emergency vehicles to respond there.
The replacement also will provide an updated, better trestle designed to improve stability issues relevant to its cliff-side location.
The replacement also can be expected to reduce maintenance costs for the city.
When state officials look at Ketchikan's project list, it should be evident that this, along with improvements to Ketchikan's hospital, is a top priority.
It's critical to public safety.