The following editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:
Nothing like an economic development announcement to perk up the spirits of Ketchikan and its business community.
Ketchikan Shipyard Development Director Doug Ward told the Borough Assembly on Monday that the Alaska Class Ferry project could begin as soon as September.
The Alaska Department of Transportation has issued a request for proposals, which Vigor, the shipyard’s operator, is expected to respond to. Then it’s just a matter of the state giving Vigor the go-ahead.
The state has chosen to proceed through a construction manager/general contractor process that allows the Ketchikan shipyard to negotiate an agreement with the state for construction of new ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Vigor will have three weeks to respond to the RFP.
Ward appeared confident that Vigor and the state will be able to come to an agreement within the timeframe.
The state, which originally planned to build one large ship with a $120 million budget, has switched to two smaller day ships. The switch came after the projected cost of one large ship came in at between $150 million and $160 million.
The state expects to build two for the price of one.
As long as it builds them in Alaska, specifically Ketchikan, all will be well. The state should use shipyard facilities within Alaska, supporting the local economy.
This is indeed a welcome development for Ketchikan.