By Nick Worth
A number of projects, including upgrades in county facilities and infrastructure, are on the drawing board for 2013, according to Navajo County Manager James Jayne.
On the facilities side, the largest project planned is the Navajo County Jail modernization project. The county has selected FCI Constructors to carry out the jail project and work has already begun. Plans call for an expansion of the jail, as well as remodeling some of the existing space to provide new locations for the medical, laundry, kitchen and booking areas of the jail.
The jail improvements, at a price tag of $4 million, are expected to modernize obsolete facilities, and will bring about an increase in the safety and security of the operations. Navajo County is using a construction manager at risk contract, which allows for the county and the contractor to work with local contractors, when competitive. The contract also ensures an agreed on not-to-exceed cost.
The jail improvement project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
Another county facility due for a major change in 2013 is the Navajo County Road Yard in Holbrook. The existing Holbrook road yard is located on McLaws Road next to the Little Colorado River. Over the past several years, flooding in the riverbed has been eroding the riverbank, which forms part of the road yard property.
According to Public Works Director and Assistant County Manager Homero Vela, the existing road yard could possibly suffer damage to equipment and loss of material piles if the bank erosion continues.
To address the issue, the county has contracted with JWA Architects, a Flagstaff architectural firm, to design a 10,000-sq. ft. road yard for the Holbrook area. The new road yard would be located adjacent to the Navajo County Complex at the intersection of State Routes 77 and 377 on land owned by the county.
The relocated facility would feature drive-through equipment maintenance bays, pits and a washing station. In addition, the Public Works team would move its offices from the county complex to the new facility. There would also be room for emergency management efforts during large storms or other emergencies, and a bunk room for emergency managers to stay on site, if needed.
No cost has yet been determined for the road yard project, said Jayne.
“The county Board of Supervisors has authorized us to work with JWA to come up with a design and cost estimate,” said Jayne. That estimate would then go before the board for approval before work would begin on the project.
In the area of road work, the county will continue with the Red Dog Partnership Project, a regional partnership that includes Peabody Coal, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Road Division, 10 regional Navajo Nation chapters, local school districts, the Navajo Division of Transportation and Navajo County.
The project is named after the native gravel material found in the Black Mesa region of Navajo County. The project provides for crushing, hauling and placing 65,000 tons of gravel material on roads in the Black Mesa region.
Another cooperative road project on the books is the Spider Mound gravel pit. The Hopi Village of Yuwehloo Pahki (Spider Mound) is partnering with the Hopi BIA Branch of Roads and Navajo County to develop a material pit in the Spider Mound area. The team will investigate the economic feasibility of crushing or screening local gravel material. Based on the best economic model, the team will partner to haul and place gravel material on public roads on the Hopi Reservation that serve as school bus routes.
“We’re working with them to improve their transportation infrastructure in that area,” said Jayne. “Navajo County has a philosophy that we can get a lot more done through partnerships, and we believe that’s in the public interest.”
Starting the process of rehabilitation for two historic Navajo County bridges is also in the works for 2013.
During the coming year, the county will be working with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to finalize the design for the bridge rehabilitation of the Woodruff-Snowflake Bridge. The single span bridge on Navajo County’s Woodruff-Snowflake Road is 121 feet long and 16.3 feet wide, and carries one lane of traffic.
The bridge is the only polygonal through truss bridge in Arizona and has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places as a unique example of that structure type. The bridge rehabilitation will replace the bridge deck with a stronger deck to increase the load capacity from three tons to 15 tons. Repairs will be done to the abutment walls and steel members will be repainted. Crash-tested barrier rails will be installed on the bridge and guardrail approaches to improve safety. The designs are expected to be complete for rehabilitation construction to start in 2014-15 on the federally funded project.
The Chevelon Creek Bridge on Territorial Road south of Winslow is the second bridge to get a makeover with federal funds in 2013. Navajo County is working with ADOT to select a contractor for the rehabilitation of the Chevelon Creek Bridge, with work to be completed in 2014. The bridge was built in 1913 and accommodates two-way traffic.
On this rehabilitation project, the existing bridge will be strengthened from a 10-ton to a 25-ton load rating for continued use while protecting and enhancing the historic significance of the bridge. The State Historic Preservation Office has approved these modifications to the bridge.
By Nick Worth