State seeks views on ferry, highway plans

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is seeking views on its new Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan beginning at a meeting Monday at Centennial Hall.


The department’s transportation planners want to hear about several alternatives they’re looking at, mostly revolving around the ferry system, including the possibilities of some dramatic changes.

Among the changes they’re looking at are what would happen to the ferry system if the state is unable to replace its aging mainline ferries, if it were to discontinue Bellingham or across the Gulf of Alaska.

The plan provides a framework for improving transportation connections between communities within the region. It looks at Southeast Alaska’s network of roads, ferries and airports, and at the operating and maintenance costs of the network.

The update to the 2004 plan will consider changes in Southeast Alaska’s industries, economy, population, and infrastructure, as well as current fiscal outlook and costs. This update began in 2008 when a Mission Statement and Goals were developed with public input. Most recently, ADOT&PF released a Scoping Report for the 2011-2012 SATP update, with six preliminary alternatives.

The public meetings will explain the preliminary alternatives and answer questions. After these meetings, ADOTP&F will issue a draft SATP and conduct another series of public meetings tentatively scheduled for spring 2012. Issuance of the final SATP is expected in 2012.

The plan is separate from the ongoing review of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which prioritizes transportation projects every two years.

System alternatives include:

1: Maintain the Existing System. Alternative 1 identifies the costs to maintain the existing ferry system. It is thus a “baseline” alternative against which other alternatives are compared.

2: Fleet Capacity Management. Alternative 2 identifies the costs, benefits, and impacts to manage fleet capacity in a way that more closely matches current and projected future traffic demand.

3: Maximize Use of Existing Roads. Alternative 3 identifies the costs, benefits, and impacts of discontinuing ferry service to Bellingham and across the Gulf of Alaska, including Yakutat.

4: Alaska Class Ferries. Alternative 4 identifies the costs, benefits and impacts to replace the three aging mainline ferries with three 350-foot “Alaska Class” ferries and a new mainline ferry.

5: Continue to Build Highway Route 7. Alternative 5 identifies the costs, benefits, and impacts of replacing the existing mainline ferry system with a system based on road segments connected by shuttle ferries.

6: No Action.

Alternative 6 evaluates what happens to the transportation system if no action occurs to replace the three aged mainline ferries.

The meeting will be held Monday at Centennial Hall’s Hickel Room. An open house begins at 5:30, with the public meeting running from 6:30 to 8:30.

Hearings on the plan will continue for a month around Southeast, with final comments due by Nov. 4.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at


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