Local News

Bridges not high enough for cruise ships?

The Ketchikan City Council will talk Thursday about the state’s newest Gravina Access study, and whether to submit comments.

The state Department of Transportation is accepting comments through Aug. 13th on the project’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Study, released last month. The options include two bridge designs and four ferry plans.

During a recent public hearing in Ketchikan, a marine pilot expressed concern about the bridge options, stating that they would make access difficult for large cruise ships.

In a memo to the Council, City Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon expressed similar concerns. He writes that both bridge designs provide a vertical clearance of 200 feet. The largest ship that now stops in Ketchikan, the Celebrity Solstice, has an air draft of 200 feet, and at least two ships that might enter the Alaska market require even more clearance.

Corporon writes that the larger ships likely would skip Ketchikan if either of the bridges were built, calling on Prince Rupert instead.

He adds that an option calling for new ferry facilities next to the existing terminals would make the most sense, because it would provide redundancy when maintenance was needed. If two ferries would run year-round during the day, with one operating at night, Corporon writes that it would “provide the operational access equivalent to a bridge.”

Also Thursday, the Council has scheduled two executive sessions, both to discuss proprietary information related to Ketchikan Public Utilities Telecommunications Division’s plans to offer wireless telephone service.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.

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