Friday, February 23, 2024

Is Prince Rupert pondering repairs for AMHS dock to assist return for Alaska Ferry Service?

The current status and future operations of Alaska Marine Highway service to Prince Rupert continues to be a working theme for the Alaskans, the most recent progress towards a return coming out of the Southeast Conference Sessions from earlier this month.

At the February 12th City Council  session, Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond provided City Council with a short overview of that forum which he attended virtually from his office at City Hall.

The Mayor observing at the time that there's not a lot of news to share and that the return seems still off in the distance.

"There is no good news, there's nobody's got a magic wand to solve all of the issues to restoring that service, except that, there is an appetite and a hunger for the communities of Southeast to see it restored.

I heard a number of Mayors talk to that point when they had a chance in front of government.

And the Alaska Marine Highway System themselves, continue to maintain that as an objective to return service to Prince Rupert.

But, there are some major hurdles to that and I won't go into them, except to say that the dock here needs a lot of work and there's some barriers to having it fixed and there's not a vessel right now that can do that route, because it has to be safety of life at sea certified, so there's barriers.

But there is an interest"

While Mr. Pond didn't go into the hurdles too much for council or the public on February 12th; when it comes to some of that path forward. A start towards a return could come with some construction work ahead in Prince Rupert.  

The AMHS Dock at Fairview when last in use in 2019, the dock
infrastructure is in need of extensive work to bring it up to standard

An update on the state of disrepair of the AMHS dock in Prince Rupert  and a potential solution towards it comes  through an item of note from the Ketchikan Daily News coming out of the Southeast conference Sessions.

The Ketchikan newspaper having interviewed AMHS Marine Director Craig Tonga who observed on the potential dock concerns.

"A possible solution that has emerged from recent meetings would have Prince Rupert cover the roughly $35 million replacement cost for the dock, rather than the state of Alaska contracting for the work, with Alaska reimbursing the city by increasing its annual lease payments by about $1 million a year."

The North Coast Review has put in a request with City Hall for some clarification and background towards that element of the AMHS situation, though so far we have not received any statement or background sheet towards it.

The topic of the Dock has been one that has been part of the past narrative for the piece of infrastructure on the Fairview Bay waterfront.

The original repair plan got caught up in some International negotiations over the Buy America provisions that the Americans were putting in place as the financials towards the work would be coming from American federal resources.

In 2021, Alaska Representative Dan Ortiz suggested that some thought was being given to make use of the BC Ferry Dock, while the AMHS dock issues were sorted out.

All of that became somewhat irrelevant as larger challenges for the Alaska Marine Highway Service evolved and the full on suspension of service to Prince Rupert continued, owing largely to the lack of a vessel.

From this month's Southeast Conference comes a pretty useful tutorial towards all of those challenges facing the Alaskans when it comes to their Marine Highway.

The You Tube  archive of the Southeast Conference session dedicated to AMHS provides for a full on seminar on how they hope to resolve the myriad of transportation issues and how they hope the future will unfold.

The story of the suspended service to Prince Rupert has made for a long running narrative since 2019, though all of the discussion has yet to bring a return of the north-south connection between Ketchikan and the city. 

Beyond the status of the dock, it would seem larger issues need to be resolved before we see another port call from the north.

More notes on Marine Transportation on the North Coast and into Southeast Alaska can be reviewed through our archive page.


  1. Is it April fools day early. We can’t fix anything in the city without giving something up. This sounds like another CN Station build. The city taxpayers come up the loser.

  2. A better idea would be for the city to invest that amount of money into housing and rent it to Northern Health
    50 houses rented for $2500.00 per month is $125000.00 or $1.5 million a year. The entire city benefits by a stable health care system.

    1. City can't invest in housing unfortunately but they can supply the land .

    2. City should not invest in a dock for Alaska Ferries until the city is in better financial shape.

  3. If everyone that it is related to this business and to keep it going they should have taking care of this terminal issues little by little when they see them and not let the safety issues to add and add until was unable to be used and spend so much money to be fixed.
    Look like everyone we elected past in present waiting until the infrastructure of this town gets at the bottom end and then they look at some options to be fixed????
    We have engineers and contractors that we pay from our tax money to look after our infrastructure , councils and other services that they should take a look at this situation much closer and more often, don’t wait until you may have shot down all the terminals, roads …. to fix something, it will definitely cost more money than our city has .

    1. The city is so far behind fixing stuff they have to prioritize the AMHS should be on the bottom or close to the bottom of the list.

  4. What is a better ROI for the city,
    Focusing on developing tourist related business opportunities for 250 thousand cruise ship tourists that get dropped off on our doorstep each year?
    Or fixing a dock that accommodates a couple of hundred cars that get on/off of the Alaska Ferry system?

  5. James Bibb - JuneauMarch 4, 2024 at 11:48 AM

    Was glad to see this news article link surface in our region's Facebook page as we should be listening and understanding the interest or concern from Prince Rupert's perspective. From a northern neighbor, and I assume to speak for many other SE Alaskans, we miss your port and welcome more direct discussions with our Regions leaders on this. We should be shoring up our regional interests for the future. Thank you for the discussion.