New Arctic port, route study
The U.S. Coast Guard will do a route and port ac- cess study along the Arctic coast, from the Canada border to the Seward Peninsula. This would be the first detailed assessment of potential vessel traffic and port needs to support navigation. The study was announced in the Federal Register on Dec. 21. It will take four years to complete.
Bypass mail test program is off
Postal officials cancelled a one-year pilot program that would have moved “Bypass” mail to certain rural communities on the North Slope by overland winter road or barge during summer. The program was experimental, to test potential cost savings compared with the current reliance on air delivery. Bypass mail delivers a substantial amount of consumer goods to rural Alaska but the Postal Service has been under pressure in Congress to reduce its costs. Northern Air Cargo now delivers bypass
New ferry in service in May
Alaska’s new state ferry, the MV Tazlina, will start service in northern Southeast Alaska in May. The vessel will operate in Lynn Canal to connect Juneau, Haines and Skagway. The Tazlina will
carry up to 300 passengers and 53 vehicles, an in- crease over the capacity of the ferry MV Fairweather, which it will replace on the route. The Fair- weather can carry 210 passengers and 31 vehicles. Meanwhile, the state Dept. of Transportation and Public Facilities has dropped plans to install crew quarters on two new ferries the Tazlina and MV Hubbard, which would have allowed them to operate on longer routes. Crew quarters additions would have cost $30 million. However, new side-loading doors will be added to both ships to allow service to small communities with limited facilities.