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

Harbor board won't pursue free but aging breakwater float


December 22, 2021

Harbormaster Shawn Bell reported that there would be too many issues with an aging breakwater float from Ketchikan that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had offered for free to protect Letnikof Harbor.

“I love the idea of getting some protection out there. And I’m hoping to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to see if we can get a project going from the ground up with their cooperation. But I don’t think it’s worth pursuing that Ketchikan float,” Bell said at a Dec. 16 ports and harbors advisory committee meeting. The 960-square-feet float is owned by the Army Corps and would cost between $300,000 and $500,000 to transport to Haines, but the structure itself would be free.

Bell raised the idea at a November ports and harbors committee board meeting. Board members requested that he learn more from the Army Corps and report back.

At the Dec. 16 meeting, Bell said an Army Corps report on the float five or six years ago recommended that it be replaced within eight years. “There were some hollowing sounds in the concrete that would indicate corrosion in the steel… As much as I would love to jump on it, there are too many cons in my view to move forward with it.”

In other ports and harbors news, the borough created a new working group that will work to refine designs for the renovation of Lutak Dock while borough staff await details about the $20 million federal grant awarded to Haines last month to complete the first two phases of the four-phase project.

The seven-member working group will be composed of harbormaster Bell, public facilities director Ed Coffland, Mayor Douglas Olerud, planning commissioner Don Turner Jr., Fred Gray of the ports and harbors committee and a representative each from AML and Delta Western. Bell said the working group would address the design of phase three (which will not be covered by the $20 million grant).

There was a question about whether the dock would have the capacity to serve large ocean-going vessels. The biggest ships that come to Haines right now are the 300- to 350-feet AML and Delta Western barges. The first two phases of the dock renovation will not enable access for bigger ships, but Bell said the current design wouldn’t prevent future expansion.

“We need to build toward the future to as great an extent as we can,” committee member Terry Pardee said.

Committee members said there has been a misconception that phases three and four of the dock project would include an ore terminal. “That has to be cleared up with the community, there is a misconception,” said Fred Gray.

Ports and Harbors will next meet on Jan. 23 at 10:30 a.m.


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