On Friday, the Empire published an article about Sen. Egan’s address to the Juneau Chamber concerning the highlights of this legislative session. Sen. Egan covered important topics like education funding and many large-ticket Juneau projects.
He also addressed funding for Skagway and mentioned some of that funding may be used to help salvage the Skagway Ferry Float which sank Thursday morning. The next comment by Juneau Chamber CEO Cathie Roemmich was very disturbing to me and the people of Skagway. There are many issues with her comment, “I bet they want a road now,” but probably the most disturbing one to me is that the proposed Juneau Access Road is not coming to Skagway. It is going to the Katzehin River delta where shuttle ferries will take people to Haines and Skagway. As a member of the Marine Transportation Advisory Board she should be aware of this. If the Juneau Access Road was ever to happen, there would still be a need for a ferry dock in Skagway.
The apparent lack of concern for Skagway’s situation is the other big issue for me. The ferry dock is not only a main transportation component of the Lynn Canal corridor but is an economic engine for Skagway supporting small cruise ships, freight services, and vessel fueling operations. The float is jointly managed by the Alaska Marine Highway System and the Municipality of Skagway and that cooperation has worked very well for many years.
The busy tourist season for Skagway is upon us. Summer workers fly into Juneau and walk on the Alaska Marine Highway to come to work here. The local airlines have put on extra flights but this is a very tough situation for our community. I hope the State of Alaska can act quickly to get the float fixed. The dock is currently exposed for two to three hours during this current tide cycle and I hope a good plan for pumping it out is being implemented before this tide window goes away next week.
Skagway has always been a big supporter of AMHS and marine transportation in the Lynn Canal. We will continue to work with our neighboring communities to make sure we have the most reliable and safe transportation means possible.
Former Skagway Assembly member
Southeast Conference Board (Past President)
MTAB (Past Chair)
Alaska Municipal League