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2/10/2018
Port upgrade meetings planned for Wednesday

By BILLY SINGLETON
Daily News Staff Writer

This week is set to be a significant step forward for the in-water component of local port improvement efforts.

Infrastructure advising firm Moffat & Nichol, along with the City of Ketchikan Port and Harbors Department, will host two meetings Wednesday to discuss preliminary designs for the Berths 1 and 2 in-water expansion project. The firm’s representatives will present to the Ketchikan City Council the following day with the aim of receiving official direction on the project.

The project involves adding new floating docks at Berths 1 and 2, allowing them to accommodate larger ships. It’s being planned alongside an upland improvements project, which aims to ease pedestrian traffic on the land side. Both projects are tentatively set for a summer 2020 completion date.

Wednesday’s meetings are scheduled for 3-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. in the council chambers at 334 Front St. The two-hour meetings will consist of a presentation on the two preliminary design options and a community discussion.

Option 1 would expand Berth 1’s capacity, allowing it to dock vessels up to 1,150 feet long, and leave Berth 2’s 960-foot capacity unchanged. Option 2 would allow both berths to accommodate the 1,150-foot vessels. Moffatt & Nichol has said that it expects ships of that size to enter the Alaska market in 2019 and 2020.

The firm hopes to gauge feedback on the two options Wednesday in order to relay this information to the council at Thursday’s council meeting.

On Thursday, Moffat & Nichol representatives will present an abridged version of Wednesday’s presentations. Though no decision is expected during the meeting, the representatives hope that a decision will follow soon after so that the project’s scheduling stays on track.

The City Council OK’d the project in October 2017. Since then, Moffat & Nichol has conducted investigations, studies and preliminary design on the floating docks.

Shaun McFarlane, the firm’s project manager, emphasized the importance of this decision in a recent memo.

“This is an important decision point for the city with far-reaching implications with respect to project cost, future growth potential and public sentiment,” he said in the memo.