City proposes $17.9 million upgrade at Auke Bay

Port officials will present project to Assembly committee on Monday

Posted: Thursday, February 05, 2004

Juneau port officials are working on a $17.9 million project that would provide a commercial fishing loading float, boat launch, tour ramp and seawalk along with additional boat slips, parking and landscaping.

They will present the project to the Juneau Assembly Public Works and Facilities Committee at noon on Monday.

The plan is intended to reduce traffic congestion, create a "usable" waterfront, and provide more permanent boat slips, reducing the waiting lists, Port Engineer Mike Krieber said.

It would separate commercial fishermen and their equipment and tour operations from recreational users while allowing tourism businesses to grow, he said.

Public Works and Facilities Committee Chairman Marc Wheeler has been a longtime supporter of a commercial fishing loading float, he said.

Fishermen would be allowed to drive onto the float to transfer equipment, gear and provisions to their boats, Krieber said. The 50-by-200-foot float could accommodate up to 10 boats, Krieber said.

Funding for the loading float was part of a $15 million general obligation bond proposition that Juneau voters approved in 2002. Voters approved $3.25 million for the ramp, and the city has tentatively agreed to allocate $400,000 in the fiscal year 2005 budget, Krieber said.

Committee member Merrill Sanford said the Auke Bay project will be one of many that Assembly members will weigh when deciding funding to include in the fiscal year 2005 budget. Funding for Auke Bay will be a high priority for him because of congestion and conflicts among user groups there, Sanford said.

Aside from the commercial fishing loading ramp, the project is contingent on whether the city buys De Hart's Marina owned by Dick Deems, Krieber said. Deems is asking $3 million for about five acres of tidelands, uplands and the marina that has 90 moorage slips and a boat hoist.

If the land sale goes through, the city wants to install a 300-foot boat launch, a tour ramp that would allow people to access boats for whale watching and sightseeing, 100 boat trailer spaces, about 50 parking spaces, 200 moorage slips, a 1,220-foot seawalk along the perimeter, and green space.

Some landscape work, a portion of the seawalk and 200 boat slips are estimated to cost $6.1 million, and the work is slated for fiscal years 2005-07.

The launch ramp, landscape work, a portion of the seawalk and some parking is estimated to cost $2.9 million. That work would be scheduled for fiscal years 2006-07. Krieber hopes the state Department of Fish and Game will fund $1 million to $3 million of that, he said.

The tour ramp, more parking and additional landscaping and seawalk is estimated to cost $2.1 million, and the work is slated for fiscal years 2006-07.

In total, the city estimates funding the project with $4.2 million in city general obligation bonds, $1 million to $3 million from Fish and Game, and $3.5 million in Docks and Harbors revenue bonds. About $8 million would be needed to complete the project.

If the Assembly agreed to fund the project, it would be subject to review by the Juneau Planning Commission.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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