Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

State Senate rejects Lutak Dock funding


May 27, 2021

The Alaska State Senate voted 14-6 against a budget amendment that would have added $7 million for the first phase of Lutak Dock renovations.

The Lutak Dock face has reached the end of its service life and officially closed last year after Alaska Marine Lines completed construction of a new freight ramp, ensuring Haines’ supply chain remains intact. 

The borough has been looking for a funding source for dock renovations. While previous estimates for dock repairs were upwards of $30 million, the borough recently developed a cheaper, phased approach with the first step, which would result in a usable dock, costing roughly $7 million.

“It plays a key role in the economic viability of our region… repairing the Lutak Dock, securing that key piece of infrastructure for whatever needs to move north, up the highway into the interior, minerals from the Yukon, whatever that opportunity is, takes a functional freight dock,” said Sen. Jesse Kiehl, arguing in favor of the amendment on the senate floor.

Finance chair Sen. Bert Stedman spoke against the amendment, saying it’s each municipality’s responsibility to make sure it sets aside money necessary to maintain dock infrastructure.

“This is a commercial dock... it should be in an enterprise fund. It should have a sinking fund. It should have replacement reserves, and it should be run like a business,” Stedman said. “We have these freight docks all over the islands I represent, virtually all of them didn’t get anything in the capital budget.”

In an interview Sunday, Kiehl said despite senate rejection of the amendment, there’s still hope for dock funding. 

“The amendment (involved spending state dollars). If COVID federal dollars or federal infrastructure funds are available, there’s a different political calculus,” Kiehl said.

The borough currently has $2 million in the Lutak Dock fund, according to interim manager Alekka Fullerton. 

Subsequent phases of Lutak Dock renovations could include refurbishing the existing dock face, recapturing additional tidelands in front of the parking lot for the state ferry terminal and sourcing project fill from the hillside behind the dock. The total cost, including phase one, is an estimated $26 million.

The borough will host a series of town hall meetings about the future of the dock. A June 3 meeting will solicit public input on the first phase of dock renovations in preparation for applying for grants this summer. On June 24, the borough will solicit feedback on the overall plan for the dock and potential future uses like an ore terminal.


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