By Gretchen Wehmhoff
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) proposed Alaska Marine Highway System (AHMS) winter operating plan is now available for public review, but only through today, Aug. 14.
AHMS says the plan is based on expected funding levels for fiscal year 2021, citing significantly lower than expected revenues they credit to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan includes minimal essential service to most communities. Service gaps will still impact the plan due to vessel overhauls and layups as a result of available funding for specific repairs and maintenance.
In the plan, the Matanuska will cover Bellingham, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Sitka and Kake, beginning Feb. 10, 2021.
The LeConte will cover Lynn Canal to Haines and Skagway as well as intermittent trips to Sitka and Kake until its overhaul starting Feb.15 through April 12, 2021. There will be service gaps for Hoonah, Gustavus, Angoon, Pelican and Tenakee during the overhaul.
The Kennicott will cover Bellingham/Cross-Gulf, Prince William Sound, Homer and Kodiak through Jan. 6, resuming service March 18, 2021. Ports included in the schedule are Bellingham, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Whittier, Cordova, Homer and Kodiak on a two-week cycle. Prince William Sound, Homer and Kodiak will see service gaps during the overhaul. Liuya will continue to cover Ketchikan and Annette Bay, stopping for its two-week overhaul from Jan. 10 through Jan. 26, 2021.
Homer, Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Chain will be served by Tustumena beginning April 15.
DOT&PF said there will be no service to Chenega Bay, Tatitlek, Valdez, Seldovia, Ouzinkie and Port Lions. There is an indefinite hold on service to Prince Rupert.
Communities and interested people can review and submit comments on the proposed operating plan through Aug. 14. There will not be a public teleconference during the comment period. Written comments are being accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by fax at (907) 228-6873.
The operating proposal can be found HERE.