Assembly votes to begin cruise dock improvements

Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Juneau Assembly voted for a $250,000 preliminary engineering contract received from local consultants PND Engineering, Inc., through the Docks and Harbors Board rebuilding plan for the city cruise ship docks. The vote came during Monday's regular meeting in the Municipal Building's Assembly Chambers.

"We will start work within the next couple of weeks," city port manager John Stone said, "(for) the on-shore off-shore surveying and meeting with the industry people and dock users to make sure what we have talked with them for the last five years is what they want."

He said the city also will "get more details for design."

The PND proposal contract for preliminary engineering services on the downtown cruise ship docks presented by the harbor board was for the preparatory work needed to get ready for the detailed dock design documents to bid.

The proposal from Dick Somerville, PND's vice president and project engineer, showed a comprehensive outline of tasks that would be accomplished with the support of several local engineering firms. This would allow Juneau to move forward with the final design and permitting phases of the project rapidly.

The Assembly requested additional studies as well, including investigation of the immediate and long-term feasibility of providing shore power to the cruise ships, similar to what is done at Franklin Dock, and studies of cruise ship wastewater treated at the city's treatment plant.

The board reviewed CBJ's cruise ship dock plans in light of positive economic developments in this year's legislative session, which gave Juneau a $9 million grant July 1, and has been in contact with the Juneau office of PND. The grant will be appropriated and introduced at a public hearing during the next Assembly meeting on August 9.

Juneau will start receiving $5 per cruise ship passenger from the state in the 2012 fiscal year. There is also a local $5 marine passenger fee and $3 port development fee. These passenger fees, based on the 2010 level of 860,000 passenger arrivals, generates over $11 million per year. The board estimated the new docks would be ready at the start of the 2013 season if design work begins this summer.

"This sets us up to handle cruise ships over the next several decades," Stone said. "This will give us three floating docks in the community. As far as cruise ship ports in Alaska, we will be in the best shape."

Stone said ships currently tie up at traditional "fixed piers" such as the one on waterfront near the library and a gangway is used for passengers to reach the dock. The new project, and what the cruise industry prefers, is a "floating barge" design that ships would moor to and rise or descend with the tides. Ships would open side disembarkment areas to allow passengers to approach the fixed dock from a more stable area.

"It is a great project for the community," Stone said. "Most industry people are pretty optimistic that tourism is going to be back to peak years again."

• Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.



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