Friday, December 4, 2015

Alaskans give consideration to exit from Prince Rupert for AMHS service

Alaska residents are discussing the
fate of AMHS service up and down
the panhandle with fate of
the Prince Rupert stop
high on the topic list
A town hall meeting on transportation in Ketchikan this week offered a number of options for residents of that community to consider when it comes to their ferry service and one of the possible scenarios explored was a complete pull out from the port of Prince Rupert.

That option was just one of a number of options considered for the Alaska Marine Highway System, which held an information session for residents of Ketchikan on Wednesday.

According to the Juneau Empire, Deputy Director Michael Neussl presented the prospect of ending the service to Prince Rupert, making it part of a discussion regarding a choice for ferry users of using the North Coast port or that of Bellingham, Washington.

"It's Prince Rupert or Bellingham" -- Michael Neussl quoted in the Juneau Empire as to which ports of call could be cut from the AMHS route map.

As part of the presentation to Ketchikan residents Neussl noted that the Bellingham run generates 25 per cent of the ferry system's revenue, while there are several concerns related to Prince Rupert weighing on the minds of AMHS officials these days.

Included in those concerns, the ongoing dispute between the US and Canada related to the terminal and dock facility in Prince Rupert, with the Deputy Director calling attention to the element of risk related to the aging dock facility in Prince Rupert could force the closure of the terminal, he also observed that traffic continues to decline on the run between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan.

The three dozen or so residents that participated in the discussion offered up a range of comments related to the service on the southbound service, with some noting that they prefer the option of access to the interior of the US mad available through Prince Rupert, while others expressed their preference for the direct route to Washington state.

The prospect of an end of service
to Prince Rupert by the AMHS
was part of a discussion on
Wednesday at a forum in Ketchikan
The Ketchikan discussions are part of an ongoing consultation by the AMHS as it strives to address funding cutbacks to the ferry service, a topic which also attracted a fair bit of comment with residents expressing their frustration at the impact that current cutbacks and planned changes will have on their community.

The Alaska Ferry officials provided no timeline for Ketchikan residents as to when they may make further decisions related to their service to the south, however the Department of Transportation hopes to have updated information in place by the start of the January legislative session in Juneau.

You can review the full article from the Juneau Empire here.

Yesterday we noted that the Prince Rupert Terminal project was no longer listed on the State of Alaska's Transportation Improvement Plan.

Since the dock replacement project ground to a halt last year over the issue of American supplied construction materials, there has been little public comment made from any officials as to whether discussions are taking place to resolve the issue.

The future of the Alaska Marine Highway System was recently on the mind of the City of Prince Rupert with Mayor Lee Brain highlighting the Alaska transportation system as part of his Hays 2.0 presentation.

As we observed on Monday, the topic of the AMHS is one that is frequently on the mind of North Coast politicians and with the news starting to come out from Wednesday's public session in Ketchikan it may be back on the discussion list here soon as well.

For more items related to the Alaska Marine Highway system in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

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