AP NEWS

Group to focus on southeast Alaska’s ferry service needs

May 9, 2019

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — A new group concerned about the possibility of diminished state ferry service in southeast Alaska will focus on ways to sustain the system.

Members of the group based in Ketchikan attended a Rotary 2000 meeting Tuesday, The Ketchikan Daily News reported Wednesday.

The group intends to communicate with state officials about maintaining and improving the Alaska Marine Highway System, said retired Ketchikan shipyard director Doug Ward. He plans to meet with community and business leaders to find people committed to the process.

“If we don’t step in, it’ll be like so many other transportation plans that happened in the past,” he said. “We end up with a consultant’s plan instead of a constituents’ (plan.)”

Former Republican Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski spoke at the meeting and said ferries are both a state and regional issue. Southeast Alaska needs to be unified in its message about the marine highway system to the current administration, Murkowski said.

“Some services might be picked up,” Murkowski said. “But the private industry has given no indication they want this.”

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy did not provide funding for the system beyond Oct. 1 in the operating budget presented to the state Legislature in February, Murkowski said.

“Because if you just leave it to be done by somebody, you’re going to get that kind of a piecemeal; maybe it’ll last partially next year and the worst thing is to try and rebuild it from nothing,” Murkowski said.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com