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Damage Found in Nome-Beltz Tunnel, Blocked Off Until Engineer Can Assess Site

Some structural damage has been found within the tunnel that connects the Nome Swimming Pool to Nome-Beltz High School, however no imminent danger has been indicated yet.

“We had a chunk of concrete that had fallen out of the wall/ceiling area, where they’re joined.”

– Nome Public Schools’ Superintendent Jamie Burgess

Burgess says that the school district is working with Bristol Engineering and Nome City Engineer John Blees to assess the scope of any structural concerns. According to Blees, who has not seen the site in-person, the tunnel damage does not indicate an emergency.

“All we’ve seen is photos. Since we haven’t done a thorough analysis, I can’t tell you whether or not it’s an immediate concern. It looks to me as though, from the photos, that the damage has taken place over a bit of time and so our assumption is that it is not an immediate threat.”

– John Blees

Burgess does hope to get a structural engineer to come in-person to assess the site once the city ban on travel is relaxed in Nome.

Row of cones blocking off an near Nome-Beltz High School tunnel. Photo from Joe Coleman, KNOM (April, 2020).

If the Nome-Beltz High School tunnel was to collapse, Burgess says that the district office, transportation office, and dorms would not have hot water. Nome’s district office would also lose internet capabilities.

“The tunnel itself houses all of the hot water lines that run from our boiler in our power plant to the district office building. It also houses the fiber optic network connections here and those are all up against the ceiling of the tunnel and that area is not insulated.”

– Jamie Burgess

Until the need is greater, or someone is able to come into town safely without COVID-19 concerns, all vehicles are being re-routed away from the area.

The Nome-Beltz campus staff is working to shore up the tunnel.

Image at top: ‘No Parking’ sign in front of Nome Swimming Pool entrance. This door leads to the tunnel that connects to Nome-Beltz High School. Photo from Joe Coleman, KNOM (April, 2020).

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