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Port director calms dock driving worries

Posted: June 6, 2011 - 9:32pm  |  Updated: June 7, 2011 - 7:17am

City and Borough of Juneau Assembly members were concerned that, by approving the 16B-3 cruise ship dock project, they also approved open access to vehicles through Marine Park.

Port Director John Stone stressed that there is currently vehicle access primarily through two routes, but both must be approved by the Docks and Harbors Department and is limited. That procedure will carry through with the new docks.

Stone said the vehicles that access those docks include rare emergency vehicles, Docks and Harbors vehicles which usually come after high pedestrian hours or at the beginning or end of the season and occasional deliveries to ships.

“When we did 16B, the over-arching principle, we were not intending to change any of the operations in regards to vehicle operations at the docks,” Stone said. “I think the primary concern was in the area of Marine Park. There are a few ways to get vehicles on the dock. If you go over to the plaza, where the bricks are, there is sort of a little vehicle access area. All of the vehicle access areas are secure. There is an access within the brickyard. There is one in between what we call the Wedding Cake and Marine Park itself. I think that’s the one people have concern over. We use that occasionally and its generally limited to specific items.”

Stone said the cruise line agencies will work with Docks and Harbors staff when a delivery is needed, and it’s usually items the ship has run out of more quickly than anticipated or items that broke down unexpectedly. He said one year a ship needed to have a new coffee machine delivered, but normal deliveries include fresh produce, beer kegs and other food items.

“If they run out something and they can get it in Juneau, they try to get it,” Stone said.

Assemblyman Merrill Sanford said last Saturday a ship had three flats of milk brought in.

“My staff felt as an average over the past several years, twice per week on average,” Stone said. “It varies quite a bit. This year we just haven’t used it. What we try to do, if we can, is have all of the deliveries through the brickyard access. Sometimes items are just too heavy and we want to get them right on the dock so we use the access between the Wedding Cake. There is no intent to actually change how passengers are loaded, to somehow have buses drive down to where the floating berths are. What we currently have is a good setup.”

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho asked if the access to the east of Marine Park Garage is used. Stone said it is not because the dock had a grade change years ago and to meet American Disabilities Act requirements a ramp had to be put in. The ramp obstructs vehicle access. Stone said through future improvements it may be possible to even out the grade difference to be able to remove the ramp.

Assemblyman Bob Doll asked if it would be feasible to install a crane that could grab big loads off the shore and bring them to the docks without the vehicle.

Stone said his “gut feeling” would be no, especially with the distance the floating berths will be from shore. However, he said he would look into it.

Botelho said he wanted to be very clear on the expectation that Docks and Harbors foresees two vehicles a week based upon history. Stone confirmed that.

He also asked what it does for pedestrians.

“We try to do it at the times where the pedestrian loads are the lightest,” he said, adding staff who work those docks will coordinate with the ships and delivery people to determine the best time to operate. “We move staff in their area, and make sure pedestrians don’t come in there or set up the yellow barriers and separate the vehicle from the pedestrians.”

In other action, the Assembly approved an ordinance for $38,800 for partial funding of implementing Juneau’s Coastal Management Program. The funds come from an annual grant from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development to complete the city Coastal Management Program’s required tasks. The grant requires a local 50 percent match, which will come from the Community Development Department.

In other business, Assemblyman Bob Doll asked the Assembly and “anyone within range of the sound of my voice” to help him with a project to get Juneau designated as a Coast Guard city. Doll said in most cases, Coast Guard designated cities have large bases with a lot of young officers and recruits. Doll said Juneau is unique in that it has a lot of senior officers and senior petty officers.

“The objective of the program is to recognize communities with a long history between the city and the Coast Guard,” Doll said.

He’s looking for city officials, organizations and citizens to share with him instances they’ve helped out Juneau’s Coast Guard service personnel — whether in finding housing, financially, medically, through educational opportunities or in other ways. Doll hopes to put together a comprehensive application showing how the city has benefitted the Coast Guard and vice versa, although he expects Coast Guard contributions to top city efforts.

He may be reached via e-mail through the city web contact form at: http://www.juneau.org/assembly/members.php or via telephone at 723-2124.

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

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