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

Social media strains over Prince Rupert’s boil water notice

Resident forms Community for Clean Water, and Jennifer Rice responds acting mayor’s comments

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

Shutter Shack being held hostage by landlords, protesters say

Victoria-based landlords to supervise removal of equipment from their Prince Rupert commercial unit

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Harbour debris burned in Tuck Inlet

400 cubic meters of material being burned by the Harbour Debris Society until January 17

This Week Show – Episode 118

Highlights from this week in Prince Rupert

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Student rangers sought for Terrace

Young adults interested in student ranger program have until Feb. 24 to apply

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read