Walker Says Rupert Terminal Will Be Rebuilt

Gov. Bill Walker says he’ll continue pushing for construction of a new ferry terminal in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

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His administration cancelled project bidding Jan. 21 due to a dispute over construction materials.

Federal funds covering most of the project require U.S. steel to be used. Canadian officials won’t let that happen.

The ferry Taku loads up at the Prince Rupert, B.C., ferry terminal July 24, 2014. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)
The ferry Taku loads up at the Prince Rupert, B.C., ferry terminal July 24, 2014. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

At a recent press conference, Walker said he expected to find a way around the conflict.

“It’s an important part of what we do as far as our Alaska Marine Highway System. So, we’ll continue to have that discussion and I’m sure we’ll come to some sort of understanding so the project can move forward,” Walker said.

Prince Rupert is about 100 miles southeast of Ketchikan. It’s the only ferry port on the mainland road system in the thousand miles between Skagway and Bellingham, Washington.

State Transportation Department officials say the current dock and ramp will last no more than five years.

The terminal had to close for repairs when it was deemed unsafe in 2008. But that was only a temporary fix.

Since then, there state has negotiated a $3.3-million, 50-year lease for the terminal, which is part of Prince Rupert’s port.

Transportation Department spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said that’s a long-enough commitment to justify reconstruction.

“Usually when we build facilities, bridges, roads they have a finite life. And 50 years is a pretty good estimate for a lifespan of a terminal,” Woodrow said.

Bidding documents listed the cost at $10 million to $20 million.

Woodrow says if the project proceeds, it’s expected to take one or two construction seasons to build.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.