DOT moving ahead on Cascade Point ferry terminal - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, January 23, 2020
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DOT moving ahead on Cascade Point ferry terminal

ADVANCES S.E. TRANSPORTATION PLAN

The money has been set aside, and the Department of Transportation has the authority to use it.

Now, Must Read Alaska has learned that rather than fight for a road to Katzehin, which is on the other side of Berner’s Bay, DOT has given the go-ahead for the new ferry terminal at Cascade Point and improvements to the short road to reach it.

Juneauites wanting to take the ferry to Haines or Skagway will need to drive 30 miles past the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal to the new terminal at Berners Bay. That 30-mile extra drive will cut two hours off of their travel time. Because of the design of the Alaska Class Ferries, boarding times are less than 20 minutes, rather than the current up-to-two hours.

The $27 million facility and road improvements will serve the new Alaska Class Ferries as they go from there to Haines and Skagway. They can still make those runs within the 12-hour timeframe that is needed to keep costs down.

The project includes 3.24 miles of expanded roadway construction from the end of Glacier Highway (Veterans Highway) at mile 40, Echo Cove, to the beach at Cascade Point.

Goldbelt owns approximately 1,400 acres of land completely surrounding Echo Cove and has worked on developing a marine facility at Cascade Point, which it owns, to transport mine workers across Berners Bay. A terminal at Cascade Point would allow both the day ferries to operate, and serve the Kensington Mine transportation needs.

The solution is far from the Juneau Access Project’s ambitions to cross Berners Bay with a bridge and continue the road to Katzahin, where shuttles could go back and forth from Haines and Skagway. But it does meet some of the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plans goal of not running ferries where there are roads. Right now, the ferry to Haines and Skagway runs parallel to the highway for 30 miles.

The new Cascade Point terminal will also meet the 12-hour rule, which means that workers can go home to their beds at night and not be sleeping on board. This will save substantial costs for the Northern Lynn Canal run, which should be able to do multiple trips a day serving Juneau, Haines and Skagway. The project will shave off eight hours of travel time round trip from Juneau to Haines, for instance, and allow about four trips a day during the summer season.

As for the original road to Katzehin, the 2014 Draft SEIS was released in 2014 for public comment with the East Lynn Canal Highway to Katzehin, and shuttles to Haines and Skagway selected as the preferred alternative under the Parnell Administration.

After the public comment period ended, former Gov. Bill Walker chose the “no-build” alternative in 2016.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The distance from Cascade Point to the Haines ferry terminal is 40 nautical miles. The MV Tazlina service speed is 16 knots. 40/16 = 2.5 hours. Considering the minimum 5 hour round-trip run time, and taking into account the slower speeds while departing and approaching each terminal, the mooring times, plus loading and offloading times, I don’t believe it would be possible for the vessel to make two round trips in a 12 hour span. The Skagway terminal is 49.5 nautical miles from Cascade Point.

  • Something like this was necessary after previous governor Parnell opted for that no-bid contract for the two newest ferries to be built in Ketchikan. Note here that this contract meant that Alaska did not get Federal Highway money for those boats. Further, those boats were built without crew quarters essentially eliminating them from so many routes.

  • John McKinnon is a clever guy; we will see if this can work. A couple of observations: Something will have to be done for the foot traffic to and from Berners Bay. It may also be the case that prospect of getting to and from Berners Bay will be enough to cause some not to travel at all. This may not be a bad thing.

    It is hard for some to accept but the Ferry system started to sink deeper and deeper into red ink when the MV Columbia was constructed. It was much more expensive than the predecessor vessels.

    Commissioner McKinnon likely has the right approach in addressing the service segments individually. Juneau-Haines-Skagway is different than Ketchikan-Prince Rupert. Sitka has always been an outlier.

  • If a crew member lives in town or Douglas how long is the commute
    The boats can not sail short handed

  • It is to bad some some simple knowledge, basic fact checking, and math is not applied by the author; rather then just promoting a political agenda

    Saving eight hours of travel between Juneau and Haines round trip? Presently the round trip travel time is only nine hours on the traditional vessel. So….

    20 minutes loading versus two hours? Two hours is including check in and meeting security procedures prior to boarding, this will not go away and will not be accomplished in 20 minutes.

    Four round trips in a day? As stated in the previous comment, it will be at least a five hour round trip to Haines, if you include Skagway that is another two hours round trip travel time added on, with loading, only one round trip in a day will be possible.

    Cut off two hours of travel time? I guess the extra 40-50 minutes of driving time does not need to considered in that math.

    Granted, this what the Alaska Class Boats need to operate effectively as they are not designed for the current system or facilities. This was a nitch the FVF Fairweather filled nicely with just over two hours of travel time from Juneau to Haines; without having to drive out the road to a terminal. Excessive fuel? The Fairweather only consumed 0.9 gallons more of fuel per mile then what the Alaska. class is expected to use. 600 gph@36.5 knots versus 250 gph@16 knots, 10 operating crew members on the Fairweather versus 15 on the Tazlina, do some simple math here. What really is the true agenda?

  • Sorry. The numbers don’t work. Can you reference ANY factual information from the DOT&PF?
    Who is paying you to promote this idea? Goldbelt? Couer Alaska? I’ve got an ?, tie this into a REAL juneau access plan and build a light rail system to downtown.

    • And that money could come from the PFDs, right Archon??

  • Oh yea and maybe reduce the costs to Coeur Mining, pad the pockets for the McKinnon’s and increase herring spawning opportunities, because we all know herring love to la
    y eggs on metal dolphins.

    • I don’t know here, Guy-you sound like you would prefer the road go on to Katzehin? The road extension clearly helps out Kensington getting a marine facility in BB but nothing like a road extension right by their mine.
      The herring spawn thing makes no sense IMO.

  • This is the most efficient option available, it incorporates the best use of road access and ferries. If this route could facilitate just one round trip per day (within a 12 hour period) including stops at Haines and Skagway and maintain a consistent schedule, it would mature into one best used most efficient ferry routes in the state. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority Hollis Terminal on Prince of Wales Island is 34 miles from Craig, closer to some communities and much further from others and we make it work.

  • Does this remind you of the Coffman cove or South Mitkof terminals?

  • Apples and oranges, the Lynn Canal route like the IFA Hollis/Ketchikan route has a well established ridership. The IFA Northern Route that you speak of was predicated on an AMHS fast ferry operating between Ketchikan and South Mitkof, and another operating between Petersburg and Juneau. The IFA North Run was to be a pickup route between Coffman Cove, Wrangell and South Mitkof. Unfortunately, in the middle of IFA constructing a $17 million ferry for the service DOT decided not to run the Ketchikan/South Mitkof and Petersburg/juneau routes. Without the outside help there wasn’t enough traffic between the three communities to sustain a ferry route and we had to discontinue the service. A sad day for the communities and the employees that lost their jobs.

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