Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Alaskans traveling in Northern Lynn Canal could see more frequent sailings if evaluations show that building an Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal at Cascade Point, is feasible. Sailings from Cascade Point would increase service in N. Lynn Canal.
Alaska DOT&PF and Goldbelt, Inc signed an agreement today to work cooperatively on feasibility studies, engineering evaluations, cost estimates environmental permitting for the potential site, just north of Juneau, Alaska at approximately MP 42 of Glacier Highway.
“This is about supporting the economy of Southeast Alaska—and making travel for Alaskans more efficient and more affordable,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. "I want to thank any and all officials that have supported. This has been a long time coming. We know this is a step. But this is a major step. This is really a commitment to see this through. It's the beginning to see this through. And so I hope to be able to stand here before you when this plan and this terminal is completed and we start to actually go across to the other side and make it shorter for everybody. So with that, I want to thank all of you."
In a report from Oct. 2020, the AMHS Reshaping Work Group estimated that a ferry terminal at Cascade Point would reduce Juneau-Haines and Juneau-Skagway one-way sailing by about 30 miles, or 2.1 hours.
The reduced time, and more frequent sailings, would result in decreased costs per trip and would enable AMHS to pass saving along to passengers through fare reductions.
While considered for many years, the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) recently advertised for professional engineering services to evaluate the feasibility and design of the new ferry terminal facility.
The MOU between DOT&PF and Goldbelt will support that effort, which is pending evaluation by the department.
“Improving ferry service between North Lynn Canal, Alaska’s capital city, and our contiguous National Highway System is critical for the movement of people in Southeast Alaska,” said Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Commissioner, Ryan Anderson. “This agreement will support the research to see if a ferry terminal at Cascade Point will help us meet that goal.”
Anderson stressed that the Cascade Point ferry terminal would by no means replace the current Auke Bay Ferry Terminal.
Instead, having two ferry terminals will allow more people to travel by ferry on a daily basis, and reduce travel time. He said hopefully a Cascade Point ferry terminal would attract more crew members as well.
"What we really want is daily service," he said. "Another important aspect is we get a lot of event requests. There's Haines Brewfest, there's Haines Fair, the Klondike Relay Race...maybe we can run two a day. That's the idea; once we get the system back in shape, this will provide the opportunity."
If they get to a point where Cascade Point's ferry terminal is set to be built, building the terminal would still be two years out. Anderson said between now and then they will work hard to get the crew challenges fixed.
Anderson said it's all as they go through the process.
"We do the engineering evaluations and as we produce findings, we'll have different ways the public can comment. There's environmental processes, but also we have the Alaska Marine Highway Operation Board, and they meet on a regular basis. There's public comment periods associated with that as well. We're listening," he said.
Once the study is complete, the department will conduct a robust public engagement effort before making a decision about whether to move forward with a capital project.
Sam Dapcevich, D.O.T. Public Information Officer, added that the D.O.T. Charting The Course page takes public comments at any time.
Each service area also has its own public comment section.
Below: "This is a key terminal for AMHS," Anderson said. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)
Historically, the North Lynn Canal route is the Alaska Marine Highway System’s (AMHS) second-largest volume run, just behind the route from Bellingham, Washington northward. Residents and elected leaders of the area have frequently expressed the need for additional sailings.
The Cascade Point Ferry Terminal is currently estimated at $36 million.
The conceptual site plan includes an unmanned day-use terminal, single-end loading ferry berth, and 50’ Cascade Creek Bridge, leading to a staging and parking area.
The terminal building would include a generator shed, and pit-style restrooms, including ancillary support infrastructure such as a 10,000-gallon sewage holding tank, a 5,000-gallon fuel storage tank, electrical generation, and potable water.
"What is the potential for our future? Our ancestors, our aunties and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers' vision and extremely bright future for our shareholders and for our communities," Todd Antioquia, Chairman of the Goldbelt Board said. "What they dedicated their time and effort towards was exactly what we're here celebrating today. This is a moment, a culmination of all that effort."
Above: Todd Antioquia, Chairman of the Goldbelt Board gives his support. Below: Gov. Dunleavy stands holding the agreement with Operating Engineers Local 302. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)
"I also sit on the Resources Committee. I think transportation is key to resources. There's no possible way to develop our resources without transportation," Rep. Kevin McCabe, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said. "And frankly, this savings of two hours of transportation time on the ferry system by adding 30 miles of drive time to get to a to a new port will be key, I think, in in helping to increase the amount of traffic to Southeast. It's great for Juneau, it's also great for Alaskans."
Above: Rep. Kevin McCabe, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, also spoke in support of the Cascade Point terminal. Below: Gov. Dunleavy stands with Goldbelt Inc. representatives and officials. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)
Below: Gov. Dunleavy and Antioquia shake hands while Goldbelt's Acting President & CEO, Bruce Swagler, signs the MOU. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)
Below: Captain Patrick Phillips gave a tour of the M/V Tazlina before the speeches and signing took place. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)
Add a comment