State-owned part of Haines dock collapses

Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A collapsed dock support at the Haines ferry terminal isn't expected to affect ferry traffic, though officials say a diver will check the extent of damage.

The first damage was discovered Oct. 12 in the hour or so that the ferry Matanuska was in port. By the time the vessel was leaving, a 4-by-4-foot chunk of asphalt had fallen away. A crewman casting off the ship about 20 feet away noticed the damage.

"It could have been disastrous," Haines terminal manager Jim Warner told the Chilkat Valley News.

"The night before, I was standing right in the middle of (where) that hole is," said assistant Joanne Waterman. "When you cast off the larger ships, that's a common area to stand."

Warner said he went out a day later and the hole was 10-by-15-feet.

The damage stems from rupture of one of the sheet metal cells holding up the dock, which was built by the Army around 1940. The dock is composed of dozens of earth-filled cells of steel, each 60 feet in diameter.

The borough fixed its end of the dock last year. The multimillion-dollar project involved sinking new pilings, installing new connecting piles and tying the unit together with a cement cap, said borough Public Works Department foreman Bruce Smith.

The state shares the dock, holding title to the eastern end and about one quarter of the frontage, but has not made repairs.

"There's been plans in the works for the last five years," Warner said. "It's supposed to be done."

Bern Savikko, marine engineering manager for the ferry system, said repairs have been "on the books" but execution has been delayed.

"We've been waiting to see what happens with Juneau Access," he said. "But obviously this has accelerated the importance."

"It doesn't really affect (ferry) operations," Transportation Department spokesman John Manly said. The holes are in an area that isn't used for parking and it isn't used to stage vehicles.

Robert Venables, economic development director for the Haines Borough, said the problem isn't expected to interrupt ferry service at all.

"We'll know more after Thursday," he said. That's when he expects a diver will assess the area up close.

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