Gustavus breakwater blows over


Haines Borough Harbormaster Phil Benner this week said the state-owned breakwater that was severely damaged in a Gustavus storm is not the same type Haines is considering installing at the Small Boat Harbor.

Department of Transportation communications officer Jeremy Woodrow said the Gustavus breakwater was designed and built by the state alongside a new ferry dock a few years ago. This was its second winter of use, Woodrow said.

The breakwater’s steel pilings were damaged in December after a storm’s extreme winds and high waves pushed the structure to its breaking point, Woodrow said.

Work crews didn’t have time to address the damage before another storm came in January. “The second storm that came through broke it loose and washed it up onto the beach,” he said.

Woodrow said the storm conditions were “much more extreme” than what data used to design and engineer the breakwater had considered.

Benner said the Gustavus barrier is a different design than the partially-penetrating steel wave barrier the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee is recommending the Haines Borough install at the harbor.

Benner said the Gustavus breakwater doubled as a float, something the Haines wave barrier is not intended to do.

“(Gustavus’s) was a partially-floating breakwater on steel pilings. It’s not a pile-driven breakwater,” Benner said.

DOT is trying to figure out how to repair the breakwater in Gustavus, Woodrow said. 


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