Starting this week, the Alaska Marine Highway System is celebrating its designation as a National Scenic Byway with special ceremonies, discounted fares and a roundtable discussion in Juneau.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta named Alaska's marine highway as a National Scenic Byway earlier this summer. The designation recognizes highways with exception recreational, archeological, cultural, historic, scenic or natural qualities. It also allows the AMHS to apply for grants for exhibits and services.
"We want to celebrate the designation. It's a big deal," said Capt. George Capacci, general manager of the ferry system. "There are less than 100 scenic byways in the country and we're one of them."
The AMHS is hosting a "stakeholder summit" this afternoon in Juneau with communities, organizations, the state, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Scenic Byway Resource Center. The meeting will be an opportunity to exchange information about the program and the opportunities it provides, Capacci said.
In addition, the ferry system is hosting ceremonies in a number of terminals and ships this fall and next spring. The "Sail-abration" starts with a ceremony on board the Malaspina at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
A dedication at the Haines terminal is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. In Skagway, a terminal dedication will be at 2:30 p.m. followed by community open house on board the Malaspina. A dedication at the Auke Bay ferry terminal in Juneau is at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The AMHS is offering a $35 roundtrip fare from Juneau to Skagway and a $20 roundtrip fare from Haines to Skagway on Wednesday as part of the celebration. In addition, a $50 roundtrip fare will be offered for the LeConte's Sept. 22 sailing from Juneau to Pelican. Space is limited and some restrictions apply. Contact the AMHS for more information.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.