SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ferry System Fix Proposed
HB 294 Creates Marine Highway Authority, Transfers Duties from AKDOT&PF


January 18, 2008

(SitNews) -
Representative Peggy Wilson of Wrangell, Representative Paul Seaton of Homer, and Representative Gabrielle LeDoux of Kodiak have introduced legislation to create an Alaska Marine Highway Authority. House Bill 294 will transfer the responsibility for the management, operations, construction and facilities maintenance of the state's marine highway system from the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to a new exclusive state agency.

The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has been transporting people, vehicles and other goods throughout coastal Alaska since the mid-1960s. They operate in the context of an intermodal transportation network. "The state is spending more money and getting less service. This is unacceptable and we have to make significant changes to the entire system. We don't have to work harder, we have to work smarter. We don't have to spend more money, we have to spend it more wisely," said Rep. Wilson.

"In the last five years, we have seen a gradual degradation of services from the AMHS," said Rep. Seaton. He points to the fact that we still do not have a 2008 summer schedule published yet, which is particularly problematic since no one can plan or buy tickets until the schedule is published. "This is detrimental to our burgeoning tourist industry," said Seaton.

Of the top ten locations that people visit in Alaska covered by the ferry system in part are Anchorage, Mat-Su/Denali, Fairbanks, Valdez, the Kenai Peninsula, Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan.

"I want to make sure the system works for the benefit of the many Alaskans and visitors who use the AMHS. The present course is leading towards disaster," said Rep. LeDoux.

All three legislators say that the intent of this legislation is to create a dialogue between all users of the marine system to improve and support the economic vitality of our coastal communities by increasing the accessibility and mobility of people and freight. "We need stabilization and capitalization for a new fleet of vessels to replace our aging 'blue canoes,'" said Wilson.

"What is missing from both DOT/PF and AMHS is resolve and a vision of where the marine highways should be in the next 20 years. We're determined to focus attention on our marine highways and be an advocate to ensure the people, businesses and communities served by the marine highways have a stronger voice in the legislature," said Wilson.

This bill will first be heard in the House Transportation Committee.


Source of News:

Offices of:
Representative Peggy Wilson of Wrangell
Representative Paul Seaton of Homer
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux of Kodiak


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Ketchikan, Alaska