Shuttle ferry design report due by end of February

The state is expected to release a design concept report for the new Alaska Marine Highway ferries by the end of this month.

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities wants to build two shuttle-type ships to serve Lynn Canal as part of the revamped Alaska-class ferry project. The previous plan called for a single 350-foot ferry. But the department said in December that the project had gone over the $120 million budget.

DOT Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says public release of the new design has been delayed while the department expands the report to address scrutiny and feedback received since the new direction was announced.

“It’s not quite ready,” Woodrow said. “Because of the public testimony that was taken in the Legislature and the MTAB [Marine Transportation Advisory Board] meeting last month, we have opted to incorporate a larger document to answer a lot of the questions and concerns that the public had during that testimony and the meetings.”

DOT commissioner Pat Kemp told the joint Alaska House and Senate Transportation Committees last month that he believes the two, 280-foot shuttle ferries can be built for about $49.5 million each. He also said he thinks the public will be pleased with the design when it is released.

Woodrow says the plan will now likely be out within the month. It also will be available online.

“We’ll definitely post it online so that anyone can go download it and read it themselves,” he said.

While Kemp blamed extensive public input for causing the previous plan to balloon over budget, he promised the new shuttle ferry design will undergo a full public vetting as well.

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Shuttle ferry design report due by end of February