By Suzanne Ashe, REPORTER
Repairs to the ferry dock will take two and a half months, authorities said. A special community meeting was held on Sept. 7 to best determine when that block of time should take place.
According to the Alaska Department of Transportation, the much needed repairs will disrupt ferry service.
The community meeting on Wednesday was to determine the best time of year, in 2017, that disruption should take place and what services can step in during the closure.
Shane Huskey from 4 Seasons Marine runs a fast ferry, the Fairweather express, from Haines to Skagway and offered services during the official state closure.
“We also might have another vessel [available],” Huskey said adding the fast ferry service could mirror the current state ferry schedule.
Resident Gary Hanson, who has worked at the ferry dock for 23 years, recommended the mid-October to mid-January time frame. His suggestion was echoed by Skagway Borough assembly member Spencer Morgan, who also said the bulk of the seasonal employees have gone by mid-October. “As far as a service alternative, I would hope the state would work with us for some kind of ‘walk-on’ traffic,” he said. “I do believe mid-October through March would be the best time to get this done.
“We did have one incident where we brought the Le Conte into the Ore Dock, but that didn’t work out so well,” he said. “However, if [4 Seasons Marine] could actually offer walk on service, that might be the way to go,” he added.
“Summer would be completely un-doable, not even worth considering,” said Nola Lamken. “Summer works would have issues either both spring and fall, but medical issues are a major use for [the ferry].
It’s harder to get out in February,” she said adding that the fall option was the strongest. However there should be consideration given to access for disabled travelers in need of alternative travel during the closure.
It would be a pretty extensive rehab, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation. Spring of summer time would be ideal for the work, however, not the best for travelers.
The last cruise ships for fall of 2017 is schedule for September 28. And it generally takes a week or two for seasonal workers to head out. The ferry is a preferred mode of travel at that time.
Although recommendations were collected, no decisions have been made at this time, said Mayor Mark Schaefer.