In this file photo, the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries LeConte, left, Malaspina and Tazlina, hidden from view, are tied up at the Auke Bay Terminal on Thursday, July 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this file photo, the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries LeConte, left, Malaspina and Tazlina, hidden from view, are tied up at the Auke Bay Terminal on Thursday, July 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Lawmakers urge governor to resume ferry service

Funds are available to make repairs, legislators say

Five state lawmakers from Southeast sent a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy Tuesday, urging the governor to fund repairs on two ferries recently removed from service.

“The recent news that the M/V LeConte and Malaspina will be laid up is devastating to our region,” wrote Reps. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan, Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, Andi Story, D-Juneau, and Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau.

“The ferry is the only economical means of transportation for many Southeast Alaskans. We know Railbelt residents would feel similar with a simultaneous closure of the Glenn, Parks, and Richardson Highways,” the letter said.

On Oct. 28, the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced the Malaspina, one of the Alaska Marine Highway’s oldest vessels, would be placed into long-term layup in Ketchikan. DOT said it could not afford the roughly $16 million needed to repair the decades old vessel.

Shortly after on Nov. 4, DOT announced that it didn’t have the funds to complete repairs on both the M/V LeConte and the M/V Aurora. Scheduled repairs on the LeConte had been estimated at $1.5 million but upon further inspection of the ship’s hull, those costs rose to $4 million, according to DOT.

The decision was made that whichever ship’s work was cheaper would receive repairs while the other would be placed in layup.

The Alaska Marine Highway System announced it would be canceling service to the cities of Angoon, Tenakee, Pelican and Gustavus, while Haines and Skagway will receive service once a week.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy cut $650 million from the state budget this year, which included deep cuts to the ferry system. The Alaska Legislature voted to provide AMHS with an extra $5 million during the summer’s special session so that winter service could be provided to the city of Cordova, but that money was eventually vetoed.

In their letter to the governor, lawmakers said that ending service to placed those Southeast communities in an “existential crisis.”

“The executive branch and the Department of Transportation have a responsibility to the Alaskan people to step up and solve this problem with the utmost haste,” the letter said. “This seems to be a funding priority crisis that can be solved.”

The lawmakers say the Legislature set aside $20 million for just such a situation. The higher-than-expected repair cost “is not a valid reason to hamstring these communities.”


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

Observers from the U.S. Department of Justice examine the accessibility of a polling place in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley during the Aug. 16, 2022, primary election. The Justice Department concluded that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to properly accommodate voters with disabilities. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Disabled Alaskans encountered barriers in recent elections, Justice Department investigation finds

Alaska failed to accommodate people with disabilities who were trying to cast… Continue reading

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign rally at Legends Event Center on Dec. 20, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)
Want to run for President in Alaska? You’ll need a few thousand friends.

On Friday, supporters of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. turned in more than… Continue reading

A Juneau Police Department officer talks on a radio in a patrol car. Officials said JPD’s communications system, which had an end-of-life date in 2014, needs to be replaced to provide improvements such as full radio coverage within the city and borough limits. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Voters may be asked to OK $22.75M in bonds to upgrade emergency communications, wastewater treatment

Juneau Assembly will consider two proposed measures, take public comments, at July 1 meeting.

Traffic at the Fred Meyer intersection, formally known as Egan and Yandukin drives, in November 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Upgrades at Fred Meyer intersection overnight Tuesday and Wednesday to affect traffic

One lane on Egan in each direction open 7-9 p.m.; northbound traffic diverted 9 p.m.-5 a.m.

A view of Angoon from a floatplane on Friday. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Thayer Creek Hydro project fulfills ‘dream of the elders’

Angoon hydropower groundbreaking comes after four decades of effort, seeks to stabilize future costs

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, June 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on Feb. 24 in National Harbor, Maryland. Attendees descended upon the hotel outside of Washington, D.C., to participate in the four-day annual conference and hear from conservative speakers from around the world who range from journalists, U.S. lawmakers, international leaders and businessmen. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Trump endorses Dahlstrom for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, criticizes Peltola and Begich

Endorsement could shake up the race, because local Republicans have tended to favor Begich so far.

Customers gather in the seating area of an expanded food court area on Franklin Street on Friday. Reconstruction work that began last fall was recently completed for the facility scheduled to be open between May and September. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Franklin Street facelift: Sites of former Elks Lodge, Glory Hall debut new eateries, housing

Expanded food court opens at former lodge site; donut shop and low-cost apartments replace shelter.

Most Read