April 2, 2015

NPS Centennial budget request seeks
funding for maintenance backlog

By IRENE NOLAN


National Park Service's budget request for the fiscal year 2016, which is before Congress, includes a major effort to reduce the maintenance backlog for the NPS centennial in 2016, according to Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

The National Park Service late last  month released its fiscal year 2014 deferred maintenance statistics for national parks. The $11.49 billion nationwide total was up from the $11.3 billion reported at the end of fiscal year 2013.

According to the Park Service, deferred maintenance projects for the Outer Banks Group, which includes Cape Hatteras National Seashore, now total $56 million.

Deferred maintenance is necessary work on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails, and campgrounds that has been put off for more than a year. Aging facilities, increasing use of park facilities, and scarce resources contribute to the growing backlog.

 “If funded, the National Park Service’s 2016 budget request will allow us to restore our highest priority non-transportation assets to good condition,” Jarvis said in a news release. “As we invite more Americans to discover the special places in the National Park System during our centennial celebration, we need to have facilities that can accommodate them and provide the best possible visitor experience.”

The Park Service says that roads and bridges account for about half of the maintenance backlog. NPS receives some funding for these projects through the Federal Lands Transportation Program in the surface transportation bill. Those funds are set to expire in May.

President Obama’s proposal for the transportation bill, now under consideration in Congress, includes $150 million in new funding for nationally significant projects. The money would be awarded competitively for major transportation projects on federal and tribal lands.

“President Obama’s proposal for these major projects could address some of the National Park Service’s large, and critical, deferred transportation projects,” Jarvis said in the news release. “Completing those projects would pave the way for many of the hundreds of millions of visitors that come to national parks each year.”

The National Park Service’s budget request for non-transportation assets includes an increase of  $242.8 million across operations and construction accounts, in combination with a mandatory proposal to provide $300 million annually over three years, to restore highest priority non-transportation assets to good condition over 10 years and to maintain that infrastructure in good condition.

Outer Banks Groups chief of maintenance, John Kowlok, provided a list of deferred maintenance projects for the three parks in the group -- the seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Kowlok said the Park Service does not provide costs for individual projects that will be put out for bid.

He said the two most costly projects on the list are repairs to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the rehabilitation of the aging Wright Brothers Visitor Center.

Repairs to the lighthouse, Kowlok said, are based on a comprehensive condition assessment that was completed in 2014.  Included in this project are repairing and cleaning the lighthouse's masonry, metal staircase, metal panels and doors, windows, marble floor pavers, watchroom, balcony, and lantern.

These two projects, along with a dozen other high-dollar repairs, account for $30 million of the park's $56 million in deferred maintenance.

The other 12 are:

  • Replace Frisco Water Plant with Municipal Connection
  • Replace Fort Raleigh Water Plant with Municipal Connection
  • Replace Seating Chairs in the Fort Raleigh Lost Colony Amphitheater
  • Provide Sustainable Parking at the Bodie Island Lighthouse to Address Increased Visitation
  • Replace Deficient Comfort Station at the Bodie Island Lighthouse to Address Increased Visitation
  • Paint Interiors and Exterior and Refinish Floors in the Hatteras Double Keepers Quarters
  • Paint Interiors and Exterior and Refinish Flooring of the Hatteras Principal Keepers Quarters
  • Replace Septic Systems at the Fort Raleigh Lost Colony Area
  • Pave Roadway Surface and Replace Culverts on Various Roads in Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • Resurface the Parking Area and Entrance Road at the Old Frisco Pier Site
  • Replace Deck and Boardwalk at Ocracoke Day Use Area
  • Repair Roof Framing and Skylights and Exterior Walls on Ocracoke Comfort Stations and Showers

Click here for a complete list of deferred maintenance projects for the Outer Banks Group.

Deferred maintenance figures by type, park and state are available at http://go.nps.gov/deferredmaint

 

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