January 17, 2013 | Volume 43, No.2

Assembly queries ferry plan

The Haines Borough Assembly convened a special meeting Tuesday night to draft a series of questions and concerns regarding Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell’s recent scrapping of the Alaska Class Ferry plan.

Parnell announced Dec. 4 the Alaska Marine Highway System would pursue plans to construct two smaller, less expensive ferries rather than a single, larger one. The seemingly unilateral decision came as an unwelcome surprise to many politicians, committees and officials throughout the region, including borough assembly members.

The document, organized into six categories, will be sent to the Alaska Senate and House Transportation Committees, which meet jointly Jan. 17. Categories include the role of the Marine Transportation Advisory Board, which helped determine the designs for the original Alaska Class Ferry through a public process, and the proposed design for the two smaller ferries.

Many questions centered around the physical characteristics of the ferries, like if an enclosed car port, cafeteria, or berths would be included.

“What’s been kicking around is an oversized Lituya. It’s going to be an open-deck vessel. It’s going to be enclosed where passengers can go inside and sit, but there’s going to be no frilly stuff,” assembly member Joanne Waterman said.

Other questions on the list pertained to the frequency, versatility, capacity and cost of the two smaller ferries.

The joint meeting between the House and Senate transportation committees will be streamed in the public library community room Jan. 17 at 1 p.m.