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Ferry service to Hoonah disrupted

Posted: May 4, 2011 - 7:33pm

Hoonah will be without ferry service for two weeks next month due to maintenance on its ferry terminal.

Ferry service by the Alaska Marine Highway System will be suspended from June 15-29.

Michael A. Neussl, Deputy Commissioner for Marine Operations with the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, said this means the cancellation of seven service days with 11 scheduled port visits for the LeConte to Hoonah. The ferry’s first day back is scheduled for July 1.

Neussl said that while no time is a good time to discontinue ferry service, this had to be done for the safety of the terminal.

“I realize it does have an impact and I apologize for that,” Neussl said.

The repairs include replacing the main vehicle transfer bridge, which Neussl said has cracks and deteriorations. Other repairs involve replacing mooring dolphins and catwalks to provide safer access to them.

“With repeated use by ships, those things take a beating,” Neussl said.

He added that the work can’t start before June 15 because there are prohibitions on water work due to fish runs and restrictions.

A release states that due to the relatively short duration of service outage and advance notice, there are no plans for alternative ferry services. Neussl said at this time everyone needs to plan ahead. This means scheduling trips to stock up on groceries, medications, supplies and other needs before the outage. Neussl said grocery trips to Juneau are among the biggest concerns.

He added that emergency services will still be able to reach Hoonah by aircraft or small boats if the need arises. He said the Coast Guard has aided in emergency services this way before.

Neussl said Hoonah Mayor Alf “Windy” Skaflestad has been notified. Skaflestad was not able to return a call for comment by press time.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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