The city of Seward will benefit from a two point five million dollar federal grant that was announced on Tuesday. The US Department of Transportation awarded the funds through it’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery or TIGER grant program.
Ron Long, assistant city manager for Seward, says the city is a co applicant with the Alaska Railroad for the funds. Long says the money will be used to complete a master plan for the railroad’s freight dock expansion in Seward.
“We feel very good about it. We feel that some of the statements that were made in favor of it were justified. It’s an important part of our economy and we are excited to see it move forward.”
Long says it took about three years to secure the grant. The railroad owns and operates the dock. Tim Sullivan, spokesman for the Alaska Railroad, says the grant enables the railroad to determine what needs to be done to move forward with the expansion.
“This is for the West dock, which primarily serves passenger ships and it’s going to require major rehab or replacement in the next ten years. And since it is nearing the end of its useful life, this is going to require some extensive planning activities that are included in this application.”
Sullivan says planning is the first step, and future construction will depend on future funding.
The railroad owns 300 acres in Seward, and the dock is located on that land. The railroad does not pay any revenue to the city, but the city benefits from job opportunities for local residents.