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What’s Next for the Troubled “New” Port of Anchorage?

By | December 9, 2011

Photo courtesy of the Port of Anchorage

It’s not just Anchorage’s port. It’s Alaska’s port.

Our food, fuel, books, tires and toys flow through here. In  2005, the federal government named it one of 19 national strategic seaports for the U.S. Fuel for Alaska’s military bases and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport comes through here. Construction cement – enough last year to build a sidewalk from Kenai to Barrow and back — arrives this way.

Without this commodity pipeline, we’re in a world of hurt.

Here’s the bad news. The port is 50 years old. Some of it predates the ’64 quake and a major tumbler could seriously damage or even destroy it.

And here’s the really bad news.  The fix – a rebuilt port — went wildly awry.

The first plan was a giant upgrade, in the works for a decade and priced at $360 million in 2005. It would add 135 acres, expand the number of berths from four to seven, and include buildings and a military staging area. Instead of a traditional dock on pilings, this design relies on creating new landmass behind a bulkhead of steel that stretches out into the inlet, held in place by interlocking steel sheets.

Now, with $279 million spent and only about a third of the work done (some of it so flawed it needed re-doing), the price tag has climbed to $1.2 billion. Instead, the city of Anchorage is opting for a much smaller fix, heading to Juneau in January asking for $350 million to get at least a piece of the job done.

The finger pointing is fierce. Lawsuits are flying, audits are underway and some new oversight is in place.

It there a way out of this dilemma?  And importantly, how did we get here in the first place?

Host Kathleen McCoy, Dr. Larry McCallister of the Army Corps of Engineers and Anchorage, Mayor Dan Sullivan will untangle the port’s troubles on Hometown, Alaska Join us with your questions.

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PUBLIC RECORDS (PDF):

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  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)

HOST: Kathleen McCoy

GUESTS:

  • Dr. Larry McCallister of the Army Corps of Engineers
  • Dan Sullivan, Anchorage Mayor
  • Stephen Ribuffo, Deputy Port Director

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