Vandalism slows Spur Highway improvements

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2001

The frustration of summer road construction affects more than traffic. Midnight marauders are causing delays in construction and costing the public and a contractor dollars and time on the north Kenai Spur Highway project.

The situation has gotten so bad that a $1,000 reward is being offered by the contractor.

Sunday night, new mailboxes that were installed between Mile 15 and 16 on the Spur were vandalized.

They are bent over and some of the boxes are totaled, said Gary Walklin, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facili-ties project engineer on the highway repaving.

The mailboxes are considered state installed as they are included in the state contract awarded to the contractor, but they are the responsibility of the the contractor -- in this case, the Alaska Road Builders, according to Walklin.

"The mailboxes are installed on breakaway posts and located off the road on paved pads for safety. There are four groupings of them in the 10-mile section," Walklin said. "The damage (Sunday) night was in the second grouping."

Estimated cost to the contractor for the mailboxes is $3,000 to $4,000, according to Bobby McCown, superintendent for Alaska Road Builders. It cost the contractor in both time and money to have to take people off of one job and put them on a repair job for mailboxes, he said.

A three-inch pump, valued at $1,000, also recently was stolen from the job site.

The situation has driven Alaska Road Builders to offer a reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.

"We are out there trying to do a good job," McCown said. "We appreciate the cooperation and patience of the public."

The longer it take to complete the job, the more the public is inconvenienced, he said.

"We appreciate all the public help and support we can get," McCown said.

Vandalism and theft also were rampant nearer to the city of Kenai. Over the weekend, vandals destroyed equipment of a family business. Some of the destruction could have caused a fatality.

Sometime between Friday night and Monday morning, equipment of Weaver Brothers and Doyle Fuel Services near the ball fields west of Kenai Municipal Airport were trashed and equipment was broken and stolen, according to Jim Doyle, president and owner of Doyle Fuel Services.

Lights were broken out and stolen from trailers; seals were broken off doors, and doors were opened; seals were taken out of wheels; and a landing gear of a trailer was lowered so a truck couldn't get under it, Doyle said.

One act went beyond vandalism: a safety pin connecting two trailers was pulled.

"The safety pin holds the rear to the front so they can't come unlocked," Doyle said.

If it came unhooked going down the road, the loose trailer potentially could kill somebody.

Saturday night there was a problem at the lot due to parking around the ball fields. Doyle's business is also the agent for Totem and Sea Land. Company vans couldn't get into the yard because cars were blocking the entrance to the business. The police had to be called, and cars were cited. Doyle thinks that problem has been solved.

Over the past few years, Doyle's business has had vandalism problems. Similar breaking of lights and seals broken out of wheels have occurred. About a month ago, a small office in the lot was set on fire by some minors, who were caught.

There was not yet an estimate for the damage done over the weekend.

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