State calls for bids to add crew quarters to Alaska ferry that has never been in service

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KETCHIKAN – Design plans have been finalized to add crew quarters to a state ferry that has not been in service since it was built because the planned routes would exceed employee working hours limits.

The Alaska Marine Highway System intends to open the tender process to install crew quarters on the Hubbard within the next two months, the Ketchikan Daily News reported on Friday. Construction could be completed within eight to ten months.

Federal Highway Administration funds will pay for the improvements. The general manager of the state ferry system, John Falvey, declined to detail the engineer’s estimate to perform the work, as it could influence the tendering process.

However, numerous media outlets have said it will cost up to $ 15 million each to add crew quarters to the two Alaska-class ferries, the Hubbard and its sister ship, the Tazlina, matching a request for credits that the state transportation department made to the legislature in 2020.

The two ferries are 280 feet long and each cost $ 60 million to build. They can each carry 300 passengers and 53 vehicles.

The Hubbard and Tazlina were considered for day trips between Juneau, Haines, and Skagway. For this reason, neither was built with crew quarters.

Authorities changed the routes in 2019. The Tazlina replaced the Fairweather fast ferry at Lynn Canal. The plan was to have the Hubbard replace a former state ferry, the Aurora, and continue its route through Prince William Sound, as the wharf at Haines had not yet been altered to allow ferries to load. and unload the cars quickly enough to comply with the United States. Coast Guard 12 hour crew work limit.

That 12-hour clock also prevented the Hubbard from making trips between Whittier, Cordova and Valdez within the allotted window without getting hotel rooms every night for crews, an expensive undertaking, Falvey said.

Instead, adding crew quarters will allow the Hubbard to access any of the system’s ports.

It remains to be decided where the Hubbard will operate once construction of the crew quarters is complete and all necessary certificates are obtained. He could go shopping in Southeast Alaska or Prince William Sound.

How the state will proceed with the work on the Tazlina is also uncertain at this stage.

“We don’t know yet what we’re going to do with the Tazlina,” Falvey said. “We’re going to be doing one boat at a time.


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