• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 19s

Port of Anchorage future hangs in limbo

By Emily Carlson 5:02 PM December 13, 2013

The port expansion project will end up costing taxpayers ten times more than it was supposed to.

ANCHORAGE - The Port of Anchorage is the place you rely on to take in everything you need on a day-to-day basis. It’s been under construction, however, for more than a decade.

In the first two parts of our series, we told you the problems and the people who may be to blame. Now, we look to the future.

Silence has echoed at the port for three years. Construction is at a halt. Right now, no one can agree on how to move forward.

“We’ve been doing about four and a half years of clean up,” said Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan.

Sullivan said he walked into a mess and is doing his best to move forward. He’s been working with the Anchorage Assembly to find a solution. Many, such as Assemblyman Paul Honeman, are so angry, he said, it’s hard to see a clear path out of the mess.

“Clearly we’ve lost a lot of ground and a lot of time and a lot of money over this project,” Honeman said.

It’s been 12 years since the expansion began. According to numbers from the Port of Anchorage, $300 million has already been spent there. Three years with no progress. The question now: Does the municipality start from scratch?

“We won’t have to start all over, but there’s definitely some stuff that has to be undone,” Sullivan said.

The municipality is weighing its options. It paid engineering consultant CH2M Hill $500,000 to come up with a plan. They came up with six and recommended three.

Option one:  It’s the simplest plan and calls solely for completing the existing construction on the wharf. That would cost $337 million.

Option two: Finish the wharf and add a new barge berth. That would cost $642 million.

Option three: A hybrid of the first two plans. It adds a new barge berth, replaces the old terminals and allows for future expansion. It would cost about $602 million.

“It’s not a cheap project, it has never been a cheap project,” said Sen. Mark Begich. “We’re have to figure out these mechanisms to fund it and move forward.”

Begich would know. It will be his job to go, hat in hand, to the federal government to ask for much of that money.

“Up to this point they’ve funded about half the project and going forward people are skeptical that they’ll still be able to contribute at that level, but we’re going to try,” Sullivan said.

The problem is the federal government has already shelled out millions for the port. KTVA tracked the money, and here’s what we found:

According to the Municipality of Anchorage, the port expansion has received $439 million so far — $220 million of that from the State of Alaska, $139 million from the federal government and $80 million from the port. More than $300 million is already spent, leaving just $137 million left to fix the mess, well shy of the $600 million the plans call for to finish the project.

“It’s frustrating, but I really do feel like our hard work is gonna pay off with clear direction and good, solid management instead of what happened in the past,” Sullivan said. ”It’s such a vital piece of public infrastructure; it has to get completed.”

The final price tag is somewhere near $1 billion. The port will end up costing taxpayers ten times more than it was supposed to. In the meantime, cargo ships do the best they can to deliver goods on aging, rusty docks, hoping they’ll hold up until your elected leaders decide how to finish.

The Municipality of Anchorage will reveal the contractor who will finish the project in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the mayor is asking state legislators for $250 million next year to complete the project. Sullivan said at this point, he just wants to put a Band-Aid on the port and complete a scaled-down version.

Latest Stories

  • Weather

    Weekend weather, Dec. 21

    by KTVA Weather on Dec 21, 18:54

    We saw a little snow today across Anchorage. More isolated snowfall is in store for tonight. As we head into Christmas week, stay tuned for another system to track in on Christmas Day, giving us a chance of more snowfall activity. Highs all week long will remain in the mid- to -lower-20s.

  • Crime

    Soldotna woman with 3 kids in car arrested for DUI

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 21, 18:13

    A woman is in custody after she was pulled over Saturday night on the Kenai Spur Highway for driving impaired with children in the vehicle. At about 9 p.m., the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol responded to a REDDI report of “an intoxicated motorist with children in the car,” according to an online AST dispatch posted […]

  • Crime

    1 injured in downtown Anchorage shooting near PlayHouse bar

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 21, 13:49

    One person was injured in a shooting in downtown Anchorage early Sunday morning. At about 2:15 a.m., officers were called to a shooting in the area of 420 W. Third Ave., according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. The incident occurred near the PlayHouse bar, APD spokeswoman Anita Shell said in an email. At […]

  • News

    2 vehicles sink on Chena River ice stretch

    by Associated Press on Dec 21, 13:06

    At least two vehicles recently sank into the Chena River on a section long used as an ice-covered shortcut between Airport Way and Chena Small Tracts Road. Bob Weaver, the owner of Ron’s Towing, said a rented SUV driven by an out-of-state motorist sank Dec. 15 after making a left turn onto the river from […]

  • Sports

    Iditarod Trail Committee names Philip Esai 2015 Honorary Musher

    by KTVA Sports on Dec 21, 12:41

    The Iditarod Trail Committee has bestowed an honor on one of its most dedicated volunteers. Philip Esai, who passed away earlier this year, has been named the 2015 Honorary Musher. Each year, the committee honors one or more people who have made a significant contribution to the sport of sled dog racing. Esai and his […]

  • Crime

    2 arrested in connection with $30K stolen from Alaska fish hatchery

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 18:39

    Two Palmer men are in custody in connection with a burglary that occurred at an Alaskan fish hatchery last month. On Nov. 8, Alaska State Troopers were notified that $30,000 worth of steel, aluminum and copper had been stolen from the Eklutna Tailrace fish hatchery. The suspects also caused approximately $30,000 worth of damage by “cutting through walls […]

  • News

    Last call to get Christmas gifts in the mail

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 17:07

    The Saturday before Christmas is one of the busiest mailing days of the year — and for good reason. If gifters want to make sure their cards, presents and parcels arrive by Dec. 25, the deadline to send mail first-class or priority is today. “With our transportation network that we have, a lot of our priority […]

  • News

    Anchorage libraries get new self-checkout machines

    by Sierra Starks, Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 16:24

    Anchorage Public Library is unveiling a new addition to its branch locations. Libraries around Anchorage debuted new self-service checkout machines last week. Z. J. Loussac Public Library launched their new machines Friday. On Saturday, library-goers could be seen testing out the touchscreen feature, returning books and DVDs and checking their account balances. Stacia McGourty, a reference and […]