ANCHORAGE - There will be no construction on the port expansion project this year, as municipal officials evaluate what has gone wrong to date.
Interim Port Director Stephen Ribuffo said that while there will be a delay in visible work on the expansion project, taking a step back now could save time in the future by averting costly mistakes.
In 2009, during installation of sheet piles, the port infrastructure was damaged.
Now three studies are under way - two by federal agencies - to determine what went wrong.
Ribuffo said it's important to review the results of those studies before the port expansion resumes.
"It just seems impractical at this point to step forward doing much of anything else until we have a very good sense of what it is that got us into the situation that we're in right now and what kind of an organization do we need to move forward to prevent this kind of thing from happening again."
The legislature approved nearly $100 million for the port this year - half of it in bonds that must passed by voters in the general election.
Some of that money will go to the study being conducted on the port's behalf.
"And I think the state would rather have us do that than spend the money [on construction] hoping we get it right,” Ribuffo said.
Assemblyman Patrick Flynn agrees with the approach being taken by the administration of Mayor Dan Sullivan.
"By taking a second look, I think we can better define what we really need in serving the current climate base, the current customer base." And Flynn has confidence in the new port director, Rich Wilson, who takes over later this month.
"I know Mr. Wilson from days gone by. I've always found him to be a straight shooter and an honest broker. I'm looking forward to working with him. He and I had lunch together last week with the new director of the port of Tacoma."
So municipal officials said they're not dragging their feet on the expansion project but taking the time to get their team and the best project design in place.
At the end of the month, the municipality officially takes over the management of the expansion project from the federal Maritime Administration.
Meanwhile, MarAd and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are doing their own studies of what has troubled the project so far.