My Turn: Industry faces extreme challenges

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2001

I would like to comment on John Weedman's letter in Sunday's newspaper. I respect Mr. Weedman's opinion. Concerning the enhancement of existing facilities to better service the cruiseship industry, I assume he is reacting to the new 32-foot wide section that will widen the north end of the Old Ferry Dock. This is needed in order for ships to be able to place an additional or alternate gangway on the dock. This would accommodate ships that don't precisely line up with the current transfer bridge and still allow use of an ADA ramp to accommodate passengers with mobility challenges.

This wider area will also ensure flexibility in placing ships alongside at both city docks, by allowing the ship at the Old Ferry Dock to slide into an alternate position in order to accommodate a ship at the Alaska Steam Dock. The area should result in a more spacious promenade for residents and visitors. The construction of this enhancement is being paid for 100 percent by port dues collected by the CBJ from the cruise industry. The design of the project is being paid for 100 percent by funds from the Marine Passenger Fee collected from the cruise industry. The project is a good one that will ultimately provide a more useable area for both residents and visitors.

Addressing the concern about restricting public access to the waterfront and cruise ship docks, I can assure all that there is no "process underway" to simply close the docks to pedestrian traffic. The USCG has asked the CBJ and the owners of the Franklin Dock to review and submit their Terminal Security Plans in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. This same procedure is taking place around the country. The CBJ Harbor Department, Franklin Dock Enterprises, and Princess Cruises are following those instructions to review, adapt, and improve our security plans. Those will then be submitted to the USCG for approval. Our world is vastly different than it was two months ago, whether one lives in Miami, Seattle, or Juneau.

Many new security procedures are now in place at our airport, some of which are inconvenient, but necessary in order to continue to have air service to the Capital City. The last thing the cruise industry wants is to have a situation arise that would cause authorities to have to restrict access to the docks. However, it would be less than realistic to believe world events would never warrant such actions being taken. Therefore, the industry, CBJ, and USCG are taking prudent steps to be prepared should adjustments need to be made quickly.

Finally, Sunday's Empire editorial should be sobering to every Juneau business, including government. One could argue that in today's new world, with the extreme challenges facing the travel industry, Juneau and Honolulu could in the future, share more similarities than differences. I sincerely hope that next summer simply brings sunshine and peace, and visitors who will contribute to our economy and be able to enjoy the wonderful surroundings we Juneauites enjoy all year.

Kirby Day of Juneau is the director of shore operations for Princess Cruises and Tours.

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