Alaska communities waiting for contractor ferry service | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Alaska communities waiting for contractor ferry service

March 12, 2020 - 6:20 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska - A pair of Alaska communities meant to receive supplemental ferry service under a state agreement with a private contractor are waiting for the ships to arrive.

Gustavus and Pelican had not yet received ferry service by Wednesday despite a contract to provide temporary transportation following budget cuts and mechanical issues that halted the Alaska Marine Highway System, CoastAlaska reported.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities signed a Feb. 26 agreement with urban Native corporation Goldbelt Inc. to fill service gaps with private charters through March 31.

The Juneau corporation has two catamarans available, but neither have been scheduled by Department of Transportation officials, Goldbelt CEO McHugh Pierre said.

“We’re standing by and we’re ready to perform at a moment’s notice,” Pierre said Tuesday.

The Goldbelt contract included Gustavus and Pelican on a route with Juneau and Hoonah for $9,200 per trip.

Allen Marine of Sitka has run at least two charter ferries between Juneau and the island communities of Kake, Angoon and Tenakee Springs under a similar contract.

Transportation department regional spokesman Sam Dapcevich wrote in a statement that the agency “is assessing the transportation needs of Pelican and Gustavus.”

Gustavus City Administrator Tom Williams said he was not aware an agreement existed.

“It’s a little frustrating and disappointing that DOT didn’t do a better job of notifying the communities that are in the contract” he said.

Dapcevich's statement noted that Gustavus’ state dock is scheduled to be rebuilt this spring and ferries will not be able to tie up there.

Williams had conversations with the National Park Service about using its Bartlett Cove dock as an alternative and that Gustavus residents want an opportunity to restock provisions in Juneau, he said.

“I realize that a passenger-only ferry will provide limited amount of cargo per passenger,” Williams said. “But still, that’s a lot better than not having any opportunity at all to bring supplies over.”

Norm Carson, president of Pelican's chamber of commerce, said he did not know about the contract, but it would make sense.

“If we could pair that with a community like Gustavus on the way out and on the way back, then there’d be no issue with ridership at all,” he said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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