New Alaska Class Ferry could be built in state

vessels_08With several of Alaska's ferries near the end of their useful service lives, Alaska Ship & Drydock was selected as construction manager and general contractor to potentially build the next generation boat--the new Alaska Class Ferry--for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Alaska Ship & Drydock, which operates the Ketchikan Shipyard, Ketchikan, Alaska, will work with Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOTPF) to finish the design of the 500-passenger, 60-vehicle ferry along with Elliott Bay Design Group, Seattle, Wash. EBDG is serving as the state’s naval architect and engineering contractor for the project. The new Alaska Class ferries are being designed as "day boats," meaning that they will have no overnight accommodations. Once the design is complete, ASD will have the first opportunity to negotiate a contract with the state for construction of the ferry.

"By participating in the design, ASD will have thorough knowledge of the vessel and what it will take to construct it,” ADOTPF Commissioner Marc Luiken said. “ASD can then submit a bid to build the vessel. This puts ASD in a partnership with the state, an arrangement that should limit costly change orders and cost overruns. The new process fulfills our responsibility to maximize the value of public funds while providing an opportunity for economic development and jobs in Alaska.”

Back in 2008, lawmakers appropriated $75 million for the first ferry, but former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin vetoed $15 million from the budget leaving $60 million. For the most recent Fiscal Year, Alaka Governor Sean Parnell approved $60 million in funding for the new ferry. That makes $120 million available to build the 350 ft ferry.

While the Alaska Marine Highway System carries far fewer passengers than other state ferry systems such as Washington State or New York, ferry routes may often be the only means of connecting to roads to reach remote locations in the state. On average, Alaska ferries carry a total of 319,000 passengers and 97,000 vehicles per year.


September 19, 2011

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