This past winter, the Alaska Marine Highway service to Prince Rupert was halted due to repairs needed on the MV Malaspina, one of the original ships build in 1963. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Alaska’s marine highway receives critical funding

Prince Rupert ferry sailings south to Bellingham or north to Ketchikan to continue over the summer

The Alaska Marine Highway System was on the brink of shutting down due to lack of funding in the state budget, but policy makers have worked out how to approve $140-million to keep the ferry system going.

“The Marine Highway System getting fully funded is huge because they kind of had us on the edge of the chair wondering exactly what it would mean if it didn’t happen. We were very hopeful that there would be a supplemental [budget request] that would take care of it,” said Dennis Watson, general manager for the Inter-Island Ferry Authority and chairman on the steering committee for the Alaska Marine Highway Reform Project.

Prince Rupert is connected to the Alaska Marine Highway System, and with a guaranteed budget for the next fiscal year, sailings will continue twice a week on Monday and Friday for the entire spring and summer months. This past winter up until April, travel to Prince Rupert was halted due to repairs needed on the MV Malaspina.

The next hurdle is rebuilding the Alaska Marine Highway terminal in Prince Rupert.

READ MORE: Mayor Brain meets with Alaska to solve ferry terminal stalemate

Mayor Lee Brain travelled to Alaska in early 2018 to discuss with the State of Alaska how to address the approximately $15-million upgrades needed. As a result, the state asked for a waver from the U.S. government to bypass Buy America trade laws, and allow Canadian contractors to do the necessary work on the terminal.

“That is something that is totally out of our hands and I don’t know how that is going to be resolved,” Watson said. For the past couple of years he’s acted as chairman on the steering committee for the Alaska Marine Highway Reform Project to improve governance.

“We’re trying to figure out a possible new governance for the Marine Highway System and some other issues,” he said, such as trying to make an old fleet happy and young again. The MV Malaspina, for example, was built in 1963 and was one of the three ships that made the original fleet.

As general manager of the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, which services Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan, Alaska, he said Prince Rupert’s terminal is integral to the entire network.

“We’re connected at the hip with the Marine Highway System. If it doesn’t work, we don’t work. We need northbound and southbound traffic,” he said.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert delegation speaks to Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Strong winds forecasted in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii

Winds to reach between 100-120 km/h in Haida Gwaii and 70-90 km/h in Prince Rupert

Boat sinks while moored at Rushbrook floats

Port Edward Harbour Authority will lift the boat before destroying it

PRMSA wins association of the year honours

The Prince Rupert Minor Softball Association was honoured in Kamploops on Oct. 20

Web Poll: Are you pleased with the 2018 election results?

Prince Rupert elected two new councillors and four incumbents, and Port Edward has a new mayor

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

VIDEO: Horde of zombies meet at courthouse

Treena Decker organized the 2018 zombie walk through Prince Rupert on Oct. 20

Delivering the paper as a family

The Northern View is looking for newspaper carriers in Prince Rupert, join our team today

WWE star Roman Reigns announces he has leukemia

Grappler formerly played in CFL

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns

Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state

Excessive speed named as cause of Taiwan train derailment

18 people were killed and at least 170 more were injured

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Most Read