By Nick Worth
The Navajo County Board of Supervisors took the first step toward the relocation of the Navajo County Public Works and Holbrook Road Yard Facility at their regular meeting last week.
The board approved a $154,000 agreement with Johnson Walzer Associates for architectural and engineering services for the new office complex and maintenance facility.
According to Public Works Director and Assistant County Manager Homero Vela, the money will be earmarked for design and engineering services for a new, relocated county road yard complex.
Money for the engineering and architectural services will come from two sources. An amount not to exceed $100,000 will be drawn from District III Special Road Funds and the remaining $54,000 will come from the Navajo County Flood Control budget.
Plans call for the road yard to be relocated to the junction of Highways 77 and 377 in Holbrook, where the county currently owns the land.
“They will design the road yard and office building complex for the public works building and road yard,” said Vela. “Public works will move down from the top of the hill at the county complex.”
Vela said the new road yard will have a maintenance facility with pits for working under equipment, as well as heavy lift equipment and an equipment wash station. Vela said the ability to wash the equipment first makes it easier to perform needed maintenance work.
The maintenance building will be modeled after an installation on the Navajo Nation, and will have four drive-through bays for equipment maintenance.
“The drive-through bays make it safe and easy to move equipment in and out without damaging anything,” said Vela.
In keeping with the county’s recent conversion to solar power, the new site will be served by “an appropriate amount of solar panels” to cut energy costs.
“We’ll have enough panels to service the site without having to worry about trying to sell power back,” said Vela.
The office building complex will also house new offices for the (GIS) team, which prepares maps for county use.
According to Vela, the site will also have a large conference room that will be wired for phone and computer service.
“That will allow us to undertake emergency management response from this room,” Vela said. He said there will also be bunk beds in a sleep-in public works team, as well as office space for the county engineers, the planning and zoning team, the flood control team and the geographical information system facility for use during emergency responses.
The current road yard is located on McLaws Road in Holbrook and, according to Vela, is faced with a large problem in the form of the Little Colorado River. He noted that on Sept. 23, 2010, the county had to take action to stop the river from eroding the riverbank at the road yard.
“The river just changed position in the flood plain,” said Vela. He said the Little Colorado began “attacking” the riverbank behind the road yard.
“Fortunately, Jack Brooks (the now-retired road yard manager) caught it and we were able to bring in some crews to put some material on the river bank.”
Vela said the river was still about 150 feet from the back of the road yard, but there is the chance it could move closer.
“We’ve seen the river move 10 to 20 feet at a time,” Vela said. “It’s unpredictable, so it’s not a safe place for our road yard. The river could potentially wash away some equipment and some material piles.”
Vela said another good reason for relocating the road yard is a matter of logistics.
“For emergency responses for snow removal, flooding and other problems, it puts us at the intersection of two major highways and that gives us a lot better position for emergency responses,” Vela said. “Right now, we have to go in and out by McLaws Road.”
Vela said the $154,000 approved by the Board of Supervisors is for the design and engineering of the project only, and that phase of the project should be completed in six months.
Asked about the construction of the new facility, Vela said that would be some time off.
“We’re just starting to look for the funding,” said Vela. “We’re going to pursue grant applications and look at the budget for next year, but there is no date set for construction to begin.”
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By Nick Worth