Author: Bert Stedman
I was extremely pleased to see the construction contract for two new Alaska Marine Highway System ferries has finally been awarded to the Ketchikan Shipyard. Over the last seven years, the legislature has approved $120 million in state funds for ferry replacement which will now be allocated for the construction of the two new ships. Back in 2008, the Senate Finance Committee began to pave the way for this project by depositing $60 million into the Marine Highway System vessel replacement fund. Then in 2011, the Senate Finance Committee inserted an additional $60 million into the fund. Furthermore, the committee insisted that this project be de-federalized meaning that no federal funds would be used to pay for construction. By doing this, we avoided the federal procurement rules that would have likely resulted in the ferries being built in a shipyard out of state. It’s also important to note that years before the first deposit into the vessel replacement fund, the state was actively working toward expanding and improving the Ketchikan Shipyard so large vessels such as state ferries could be built here. Since 2006, the legislature has appropriated approximately $64,000,000 in state and federal funds toward that end.