A revised design and cost estimate for two new ferries that will serve Southeast was released Monday.
The ferries will be 280 feet long and will carry up to 53 vehicles and 300 passengers. The new design also includes a fully enclosed car deck, a family lounge and children’s play area, a theater or movie area, a solarium and some food service, likely provided by vending machines or a small food court.
One ferry is planned to travel from Skagway to Haines and the other from Juneau to Haines. State Department of Transportation spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said the intent is to have the two ferries arriving in Haines around the same time so travelers can make an easy connection. He said splitting up the route also saves time and money for the state.
“Having two vessels on a 12-hour day costs less than one vessel on a 24-hour day,” Woodrow said.
Woodrow said the department hopes to have the ferries under construction sometime next year. Construction is expected to take one to two years.
“They can be constructed side by side or one right after the other,” Woodrow said. “There are different ways you can look at that for cost savings.”
The Legislature allocated $117 million for the construction of the ferries during the last session. A cost estimate released earlier this year has increased by $5 million to $112.2 million. Woodrow said the increase is because the department had estimated the new ferries would include a cost savings of 10 percent. The revised estimate is closer to 4 percent.
Public hearings are planned for August 20 in Juneau, August 21 in Skagway and August 22 in Haines. Times and locations for the hearings are still being determined.
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