The release of the Arctic Deep Draft Port feasibility study has been put on hold, indeterminably. The Alaska U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had said the study would be issued for public review the first week of March.
However, in a recent Joint Transportation Committee meeting, Lorraine Cordova, Project Technical Lead, said the entire port project is being pushed back a “few months.”
The delay stems from port options multiplying rather than diminishing. The corps began with eight possible port configurations. That number has jumped to 23 possible configurations. The increase derives, Cordova said, from D.C. corps headquarters asking for more information and iterations on the sites rather than narrowing options.
These sites include Nome, Port Spencer, and Cape Riley. The port would be built as a combination plan at two or even three of these locations. However, the most likely result, Cordova said, will include Nome and Point Spencer.
“It looks like there is going to be a combination plan of Nome and Point Spencer that will probably bubble up to the top,” Cordova said.
Cordova said, the corps will select the port design with the greatest national net benefit. Nome and Point Spencer’s infrastructure, naturally deep water, and proximity to mining deposits elevate them as best options. In lieu of a feasibility report, the Alaska corps will release a “tentatively selected plan” for the port in early March.