A cruise ship is docked at Ketchikan’s downtown Berth 2. About 1 million cruise passengers visited Southeast in 2015. (Photo by Leila Kheiry)

City of Ketchikan officials want to move forward with plans to reconfigure the downtown dock for larger cruise ships expected to arrive within the next couple of years.

A motion in front of the city council on Thursday kicks off those plans. It awards an approximately $1.9-million contract to consultants Moffatt and Nichol for a 35-percent design proposal. That design would reconfigure Berths 1 and 2 to accommodate “post-Panamax” cruise ships. Those ships are larger than those that have been coming through Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Initially, the city had planned to work with Ketchikan Dock Company to reconfigure Berth IV first. That company leases dock space to the city.

According to a memo from City Manager Karl Amylon, negotiations with Ketchikan Dock Company continue, but are not moving fast enough to ensure construction can start in time. Amylon writes that the city should aim to be ready for larger ships by the 2019 season.

After 35-percent design plans for Berth 1 and 2 are drafted and approved, additional costs leading to full design are expected to exceed $1.7 million.

A public meeting is planned, but not yet scheduled, to start that 35-percent design process.

Also Thursday, the council will consider a nearly $2 million contract with Vigor Alaska to overhaul the downtown dock’s Berth 3 barge. A separate item on the agenda is approval of a three-year contract extension with the city’s Public Safety Employees Association, effective July of 2018. It includes a raise of 1.6 percent the first year, and 2 percent each subsequent year.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. in city council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.