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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Power goes out for more than 2,300 in Prince Rupert

Many lost power briefly overnight on June 18

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada issues a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

New minister joins Prince Rupert’s Anglican parish

Paul Williams moved south to lead St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral

Students set new records at Prince Rupert Middle School track day

Three new marks set on June 15 at Charles Hays Secondary School

Prince Rupert Chevron’s tanks run dry

The Second Avenue West gas station began to turn away customers on Saturday morning

This Week Podcast — Episode 89

Cruise ship season is upon us, and special guests talk about the upcoming Bushwacker dinner

Sweden beats South Korea 1-0

Sweden gets benefit of video review in World Cup

Blue Jay Roberto Osuna not expected to appear in court

The Blue Jays pitcher is charged with one count of assault by Toronto police

Global warming cooks up ‘a different world’ over 3 decades

Over 30 years the world’s annual temperature has warmed nearly 1 degree according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Family separation policy starts dividing Republicans

Deep concerns arise over the child separation policy in the U.S.

Strong earthquake in Japan kills 3

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake that struck the area early Monday near Osaka

B.C. NHL prospect expected to make ‘full recovery’ after an incident in Calgary

Jordy Bellerive was injured in a reported house fire Saturday night

BC Lions defensive back Marcell Young levels streaker in home opener

Young hit the fan near one of the 45-yard lines

Police: Taxi driver who hit 8 Moscow pedestrians fell asleep

Two Mexican World Cup fans were among those hit

Most Read