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1/16/2013
Yost tapped: AMHS chief

By SCOTT BOWLEN

Daily News Staff Writer

Reuben Yost, a state DOT official long associated with the Juneau Access road project, will be the new DOT deputy commissioner in charge of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Yost will start his new post Wednesday, according to Alaska Department of Transportation Commissioner Pat Kemp.

Yost, a former commercial fisherman and mayor of the Southeast Alaska community of Pelican, has been employed by DOT?since 1994.

He most recently served as the construction, maintenance and operations director for DOT’s Southeast Region.

Yost also has been involved with DOT’s Juneau Access road project since at least 2005, most recently as DOT’s project manager for the ongoing Juneau Access supplemental Environmental Impact Statement process.

"Reuben has extensive knowledge of Alaska transportation issues," Kemp said in a prepared statement. "He has been involved with regional transportation plans, rural aviation, design and construction of capital projects, maintenance and operations of state owned assets, and supervising the environmental analysis for numerous highways, airports, state ferries, ferry terminals and harbors. The department will benefit greatly from his expertise."

In addition to the state ferry system, Yost also will oversee the department’s Measurement, Standards and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division.

Yost replaces Capt. Mike Neussl, whose last day on the job was Friday.

Neussl was asked to resign by Kemp, who has served as DOT commissioner since October. Neussl, a former Coast Guard officer, said his departure from DOT was by "mutual agreement."

The changes at the Alaska Marine Highway System helm follow Gov. Sean Parnell’s recent "reset" regarding the Alaska Class Ferry project.

Citing rising cost estimates, Parnell announced in December that he was shelving the Alaska Class Ferry project in favor of building smaller ferries that would serve in northern Lynn Canal. Parnell said he believes two smaller ferries can be built for the $120 million that the Legislature had appropriated for the first Alaska Class ship.

Kemp later told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce that DOT is basing the new, smaller ferries "on the needs of the Juneau Access project."

Yost was DOT’s project manager for the final Environmental Impact Statement process for Juneau Access in February 2006, when he was quoted in the Juneau Empire as saying the proposed 50-mile road along Lynn Canal between Juneau and a new terminal at the Katzehin River Delta south of Skagway would provide a cheaper, easier way for people to travel.

At that time, the Juneau Access project was estimated to cost about $258 million — a price that included $53 million for new shuttle ferries.

The most recent cost estimate for the Juneau Access road is $520 million.