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KETCHIKAN - The Inter-Island Ferry Authority's new service between Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island will begin about six months later than anticipated, a spokesman said Monday.
A vessel on the Hollis-to-Ketchikan route was supposed to come on line in spring 2001, but design delays and higher cost estimates pushed the start date back to October 2001, said IFA interim administrator Jim Van Altvorst.
``It's behind the schedule that we originally anticipated, but maybe the original schedule wasn't realistic,'' Van Altvorst told the Ketchikan Daily News.
One reason for the delay is that Elliott Bay Design Group took longer than planned to complete the ferry design, said Van Altvorst. The final design, which was supposed to be completed several months ago, should be approved by the IFA board of directors at its meeting Wednesday in Thorne Bay, he said.
Also, design changes boosted cost estimates from $10.5 million to $11.2 million, said Van Altvorst. The $700,000 increase forced the IFA Board of Directors to rework its financial plan.
The six-month delay could create additional financial strains for the nonprofit port authority, said Van Altvorst. ``We wanted to start operations during the maximum travel time.''
IFA had hoped profits from the summer season would subsidize ferry operations in the winter, he said.
At its meeting Wednesday, the IFA board will consider a plan to make up for the shortfall that includes scaled-back winter operations and higher fares.