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Cruise ship dock plans expand a little, memorial likely to move

Fisherman’s Memorial likely to move

Posted: April 2, 2011 - 9:13pm

The final design for the Cruise Ship docks — a three phase project — has been unanimously approved by the Docks and Harbors Board.

The design has changed a little from the approval of plan 16B, which will move the two city-owned cruise ship terminals to floating berths.

Board member Mike Williams said the plan was discussed at their Capital Improvement Project committee and there was a lot of give and take on the final draft. He also saw a lot of foresight in the changes.

Port Director John Stone outlined the changes, which include larger berths. Stone said that was recommended by the cruise ship technical committee. Larger berths would be able to handle different ships and larger ships over time.

“They would be more valuable over 50 year design life,” Stone said.

Another change is with the Steamship berth — or the northern berth. It will have drive-down access.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to be driving down all day,” Stone said. “It will be for emergency access, maintenance, occasional deliveries and ADA type stuff. It will be specially controlled access.”

The material used in the actual berths is also changing. The plans originally called for steel berths, but upon analysis, Stone said they decided to go with concrete. It has a higher up-front cost, but he wanted to avoid the situation of the city having to pull out the steel berths to be shipped off mid-life for maintenance.

Quite a bit of study has also gone into utilities for the docks. In addition to replacing the water service, wastewater service will be added (which city data shows it can handle) and in the longer-term future shore power. Stone said they worked with AEL&P and they felt there is currently enough power available for one ship. Stone said that when the next AELP project is complete, or if a large project in Juneau were to move forward, there would be sufficient power available. Therefore, conduit will go in under the parking lots now, during existing construction, to prepare to add shore power to those docks so that other facilities don’t need to be torn up in the future. Stone said the cruise ship industry felt that it’s a global trend to offer sewer and electric services, so now would be the ideal time for Juneau to prepare for it.

Stone said there will be three phases of the project, as well as two contracts. Work has been divided in the project between what staff felt companies locally can do, and what portions may require outside companies.

“The second contract would be the fabrication of the concrete berths and the installation of those,” Stone said. “That’s super heavy-duty construction. There’s really nobody in town that’s set up to do that type of construction.”

Construction would take place across three winters starting in the 2012-2013 off-season.

Phase 1 includes the steps necessary to bid out the project, material fabrication and delivery and uplands and decking construction.

Phase 2 includes the replacement and construction of the southern berth.

Phase 3 follows with the replacement and construction of the northern berth.

The total project cost estimate is $61.6 million, with Phase 1 estimated at $11.6 million and Phases 2 and 3 estimated at $50 million. Stone said they have about $20 million ready to begin Phase 1. The other two phases would likely be funded by revenue bonds.

Stone showed plans that moved the USCGC Storis in between the southern and northern berths, but said that scenario is less likely to happen since he believes it’s become unlikely they will get the Storis for a museum.

If they did, once the northern berth was reconstructed the Storis would be stuck in between the two berths forever — unless the utilities and other elements of the berths were torn out.

Board member Greg Busch said if they do get the Storis, he would like to see it turned into a grounded museum. If the Storis were floating between the two berths it would have significant maintenance costs and would likely need to be removed periodically for repairs. If it were built up as several other coastal ship museums have been, that scenario would be avoided.

Stone said another issue they still need to pin down is the Fisherman’s Memorial.

It currently sits south of the southern berth. Given the expansion and placement of the floating berths, boaters will no longer be able to do the Blessing of the Fleet directly in front of the memorial. Stone said there is enough room for boats to get in there, but not turn around. It was suggested they use the southern berth for the ceremony, but the Fisherman’s Memorial board and patrons were opposed.

An alternate location for the memorial needs to be agreed upon. One suggestion the memorial representatives proposed was moving it a little further south of the southern berth so they still have open access for the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony.

Stone isn’t sure that will work, since it will move that boat traffic into traffic for other facilities.

Board member Eric Kueffner suggested uncoupling the memorial with the cruise ship plan, as he said the memorial doesn’t affect the final plan.

Board Chairman Jim Preston said he took exception to that. He said by the Assembly’s orders it is their responsibility to accommodate the Fisherman’s Memorial sufficiently and that the location does affect cruise ship dock planning.

Preston added that while they do still need to find an acceptable location for the memorial, it also doesn’t hold up moving forward with cruise ship dock construction.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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