The Arizona Department of Transportation (AzDOT) has cleared another hurdle in its effort to get the U.S. 89 landslide repair started. AzDOT has finalized an agreement with a contractor for preconstruction engineering services, which includes assistance with the final design and construction logistics for the ultimate fix.
Tempe-based FNF Construction Inc. was selected by AzDOT as the contractor for preconstruction services on the landslide-damaged highway that links Bitter Springs and Page.
FNF Construction is the same contractor AzDOT successfully partnered with to complete the Temporary U.S. 89 (US 89T) project, which now serves as the primary detour to and from the Page and Lake Powell areas. The previously unpaved Navajo Rte. 20 was paved in only three months to become US 89T, which opened to traffic in August.
Through a Construction-Manager-At-Risk contract, FNF Construction will work with the project design team. This early collaboration can lead to completing projects faster with reduced costs. Preconstruction services will also include the design of access roads at the project site that will be needed when construction starts as anticipated this summer.
“Every day, AzDOT is getting closer to our goal of starting the U.S. 89 landslide repair to reopen this roadway by the end of the year,” said Steve Boschen, AzDOT deputy state engineer for design. “Using the Construction-Manager-At-Risk delivery method will ensure that we can optimize construction efficiency.”
The new preconstruction agreement with FNF Construction does not include the construction project to repair U.S. 89. That contract is expected to be finalized later this spring.
The environmental and design process for a normal project can take two years to complete, but AzDOT has been working with the Federal Highway Administration, Navajo Nation, Navajo Division of Transportation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to expedite the environmental, utility and right-of-way clearance and approval processes, knowing the lack of a usable road between the Bitter Springs and Page communities is a hardship for many people.
Recently, AzDOT received the necessary environmental and utility clearances on the ultimate repair of U.S. 89. Without the clearances, AzDOT cannot use federal funds for this repair project.
AzDOT also continues to work with the Navajo Nation on obtaining the new right-of-way easements that will be necessary prior to construction. An agreement between the Federal Highway Administration, Navajo Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs must be reached to establish an expanded easement that facilitates construction, as well as operations and maintenance, of the repaired roadway.
The repair is currently programmed at $25 million. The project will include moving the roadway approximately 60 ft toward Echo Cliffs and using that rock to construct a downslope buttress to stabilize the area.