Marine Highway considers move to Ketchikan

Relocation would cost about $500,000, affecting 30 managers, engineers in Juneau

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2003

KETCHIKAN - State transportation officials are mulling a plan to move the Alaska Marine Highway System here to be closer to its repair facilities.

"We're looking at all of the benefits to be derived and trying to assess what the effect is," said Tom Briggs, deputy commissioner for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. "It's a decision that's not being made lightly."

Briggs expects to give his analysis to state Transportation Commissioner Mike Barton by the end of the month, he said.

The move would cost about $500,000 and would affect about 30 managers and engineers now mostly based in Juneau, Briggs said.

Most of the Juneau employees work at the transportation department's main office on Channel Drive where rent is high and there is a shortage of space, he said.

Mayor Sally Smith did not return a call for comment. Lance Miller, executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, said he didn't know much about the proposal, but that the loss of 30 jobs would be significant for Juneau.

Moving ferry managers and employees to Ketchikan would put them closer to Alaska Ship and Drydock in Ketchikan, where ferry repairs often are handled. The ferries Kennicott and Columbia will be laid up at Ward Cove in Ketchikan during the winter, Briggs said.

Ketchikan Borough Mayor Mike Salazar said he has discussed selling or renting the former Ketchikan Pulp Co. administration building to the state.

The 24,000 square-foot building is assessed at between $700,000 and $900,000, he said. A decision to sell or rent the facility would go before the borough Assembly, Salazar said.

Such a move would bring new jobs to Ketchikan, Salazar said.

The borough also has discussed the possibility of a winter lay-up facility for vessels at Ward Cove, he said.

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