IFA gets money for second ferry
JUNEAU - The Inter-Island Ferry Authority apparently will get $10 million more in federal funds for construction of a second vessel to serve the southern Panhandle.
House and Senate conferees recently agreed on the appropriation in wrapping up the transportation funding bill, according to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
The best news is that the IFA ferry will not come out of Alaska's annual share of federal highway funds, said Tom Briggs of Craig, the IFA chairman.
The new appropriation supplements $2.25 million approved by Congress in 1998, Briggs said. Along with a local match to be determined, that should be enough to build the vessel, he said.
IFA previously tangled with the state Department of Transportation over the agency's reluctance to schedule the second IFA ferry within the regular funding stream. As a result, the port authority missed its chance to order the vessel at a fixed price. It remains to be seen how much additional expense will result, Briggs said.
But IFA also needs about $4 million in federal funds to build a new ferry terminal at Coffman Cove on Prince of Wales Island, Briggs said. He hopes that can happen in time for the IFA to deploy the second ferry in the spring of 2003.
The first IFA vessel, linking Hollis and Ketchikan, is scheduled to start operations Jan. 15.
Snowfall may lead to Eaglecrest opening
JUNEAU - If snow keeps falling, the Eaglecrest Ski Area could open soon.
Eaglecrest rental shop manager Bill Hodge said no one wants to make any promises because the weather is so unpredictable. But if the current weather front continues to build up the base, skiers could be on the slopes this weekend.
"If we do get a foot of snow, there's a possibility the whole area could open," he said this morning.
Eaglecrest had 68 inches at the top of the mountain and about 7 inches at the base this morning. Between 18 and 24 inches is needed at the base to open. Snow-making equipment has been in operation to supplement the natural snowfall on the lower part of the mountain.
Last year's Feb. 1 opening date was the latest on record. Conditions look more promising this year.
"The mountain froze hard before it started snowing, so if it warms, it won't melt as fast," Hodge said.
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