Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prince Rupert set to fully fund repairs to Alaska State Ferry dock

An interesting excerpt from an Alaska Marine Highway service advisory from Friday seems to be letting us know (by way of Alaska) that it’s full steam ahead on repairs to the Alaska Ferry Dock at Fairview Bay, here are the important details from Commissioner Leo von Scheben :

"Nothing can ever interfere with the safety of the passengers and crew who trust us to ensure that they safely reach their destinations aboard Alaska’s ferries," von Scheben emphasized.

Late this afternoon, AMHS officials received assurance from Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond stating that his city would fully fund and complete the necessary repairs and upgrades for safe usage by May 26.

“The mayor’s assurance that the facility will be fixed and safely functional is very promising to us, and we hope this cooperation helps us maintain a solid business partnership with Prince Rupert and Mayor Pond,” said von Scheben

The service advisory/press release also has provided some details on the state of the Alaska Ferry dock at Fairview, a deteriorating structure which was deemed as unsafe on Thursday and which saw the cancellation of the Alaska Ferry Taku’s run into the city over the weekend.

The Alaska Ferry Dock has been an ongoing concern for a few months now, and judging by the content of the press release, it’s been a concern that the city was rather slow in providing Alaska with updates on. The press release of Friday seems to at least address that slight irritant in the relationship between the city and the AMHS.

The plan for the short term while the repairs take place (expected to be completed by May 26th) is for the Alaska Ferries to use the BC Ferries dock, providing the structure is compatible with their vessels. Alaska Marine Highway officials were sending an engineer up to Rupert over this weekend past to examine the dock to make sure that it was satisfactory for use with the Alaskan vessels.

The story has made news across America, as the state of the Prince Rupert dock has become filler material for newspapers as far as South Carolina. Here’s how the Fort Mills Times covered the story from its Alaskan sources.
Perhaps if they find the time, the city of Prince Rupert could share the latest developments with its residents through it's website, at least letting us know that there's money to be spent and where we have to spend it...

Alaska ferry officials seek alternative for Prince Rupert dock
Fort Mills Times
(Published March 30, 2008)

JUNEAU, Alaska — City officials in Prince Rupert, the only Canadian port of call for Alaska state ferries, closed their dock after an engineer's report concluded it posed an unacceptable safety risk.

Alaska ferry officials hope to use a nearby BC Ferries dock.

The Alaska Department of Transportation is sending a professional engineer and a shore-side maintenance supervisor to determine if Alaska ferries can moor there safely.

The city-owned ferry dock in the British Columbia community had been a cause of concern to Alaska Department of Transportation officials, said assistant commissioner Dennis Hardy,
The agency repeatedly asked Prince Rupert officials for a thorough engineers' report, he said.
Alaska ferry officials on Friday received assurance from Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond that his city would pay for and complete repairs for the city dock by May 26.

"The mayor's assurance that the facility will be fixed and safely functional is very promising to us, and we hope this cooperation helps us maintain a solid business partnership with Prince Rupert and Mayor Pond," said Alaska Transportation Commissioner Leo von Scheben in a press release.

Two sailings of the Alaska ferry Taku, north and southbound between Skagway and Prince Rupert, have been canceled.

The Taku was to make all scheduled stops between Skagway and Ketchikan but would not continue south to Prince Rupert.

The Alaska ferry system plan calls for mooring the ferry Matanuska at the BC Ferries dock at 3 a.m. Sunday.

Hardy, who plans to resign May 16, is responsible for the plan to cut ferry service from Bellingham, Wash., through Alaska's Inside Passage to one trip per week instead of two.

He said ferry officials believed overflow traffic during peak months of June and July would elect to travel into Alaska through Prince Rupert.

The Marine Highway intends to focus marketing efforts on Prince Rupert in the near and long term, he said.

Removing the Malaspina from the Bellingham run, where it ran at 60 to 70 percent capacity, will save millions in operating costs, Hardy said.

Information from: KINY-AM,
***Update March 30 7 pm--Alaska Ferries declares their testing a success and advise customers that both the Taku and Matanuska will be using the BC Ferries dock in Prince Rupert until repairs are maid to the Alaska Ferry Dock...

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