Port of Alaska receives $68.7M federal grant to kick start 10-year rebuilding program

Port of Alaska receives $68.7M federal grant to kick start 10-year rebuilding program
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 6:04 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Port of Alaska is benefiting from federal infrastructure funds with a recently announced award of $68.7 million in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson praised the work of Alaska’s congressional delegation for securing the funding and said it comes at a critical time.

“We have to remember, 90% of the people in the state get their food and supplies from these docks right here,” Bronson said on a recent visit to the port. “If it fails structurally, we are in really big trouble.”

Engineers say the aging port was damaged in the 2018 earthquake and would likely fail in another big event. The ten-year improvement plan includes replacing the docks and terminals at the port.

But before the work can begin, the port needs to address another issue the grant will help pay for —removing much of the soil on the north end of the port, which was part of a failed expansion project.

Jim Jager, External Affairs Director at the Port of Alaska, said the concern is that the newly formed land could liquify during an earthquake and take out the docks that are right next door.

“It was not constructed to create stable land,” Jager said. “So it looks like land, smells like land, tastes like land. It’s not stable like land, and in the event of an earthquake, it will likely liquefy and start to slide.”

Jager said the federal funds, along with matching state funds, will pay to remove a portion of the north extension, stabilize the remaining land and also remove a sheet pile wall that surrounds it. The work will also free up space so that cargo ships can dock on the north side of the port while work is being done to replace docks on the south side.

Jager said phase one of the north extension stabilization project will begin in April and is expected to take two years. The entire dock replacement program is a 10-year project that is estimated to cost between $1.8 billion and $2 billion dollars in total.