The U.S Army Corps of Engineers is set to unveil its first steps toward expanding deep-water Arctic ports, and Corps officials say the main focus will be expanding the existing Port of Nome.
“The report is making the recommendation for Nome, for construction at Nome at this time, basically due to its highly developed area, having a good runway, good hospital, already strong support that’s already there,” Bruce Sexauer, chief of the Alaska Army Corps’ civil works branch, said.
Sexauer stresses the choice is provisional until public comment and other evaluations are complete.
The Corps eventually hopes a system of deeper ports will be developed throughout Western Alaska.
Sexauer points to increased traffic in the Bering Strait, and growing resource extraction in the Arctic—including potential oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—as necessitating the Arctic ports, starting with Nome.
“This port will be able to provide support for those types of activities that are going on out there closer up in the Arctic,” Sexauer said. “This will provide them with a closer area where they can bring in their resupply ships and offload crews closer up in the Arctic.”
The Army Corps of Engineers will be in Nome Tuesday to meet with Nome’s Port Commission. The full report will be released to the public by the end of next week.