The new design concept for the Lutak Dock renovation project received unanimous support from the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee last week.

Turnagain Marine Construction president Jason Davis told the committee that his company, which is under contract with the Haines Borough to design and build the project, hopes to finalize a dock design by February, finish permitting by next September and complete construction by the fall of 2024.

A 35% plan — the first of three phases of design — will go before the planning commission as soon as the borough gets approval from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD).

The harbor committee, at its Nov. 3 meeting, heard a presentation from Turnagain that was nearly identical to the company’s presentation at an Oct. 6 community town hall.

There was no public opposition at the committee meeting, but there has been pushback to Turnagain’s concept since it was announced over the summer.

Turnagain’s idea is to encapsulate the current dock, which was for the most part decommissioned in 2020 due to safety concerns, and retain hundreds of feet of deep-water access. It has raised concerns among environmental groups and some residents about the potential for mining companies, in the Yukon Territory or at a Palmer Project mine, to truck ore through Haines and ship it across the wide bulkhead dock.

While borough officials and contractors have said the proposed dock concept, which does not include a specialized ore loader, would not be ideal for large mineral exports, it could serve a containerized bulk handling system that Yukon industry representatives have said they could use.

Before seeing Turnagain’s proposal, borough officials had selected a plan to demolish the existing structure, fill the shoreline with riprap and build a narrow access trestle as a point of redundancy for Alaska Marine Lines’ roll-on/roll-off ramp.

Lutak Dock was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 70 years ago and is at risk of failure, according to PND Engineers. In a 2014 structural assessment, engineers determined the facility was past its credible service life and operating on “borrowed time.”

The borough in 2021 secured a $20 million federal grant to replace the dock. The federal government approved the original concept but has yet to sign off on the change of scope that includes Turnagain’s proposal.

The assembly unanimously approved the Turnagain concept earlier this fall.