Seven coastal communities get help for ports, including Nome, Kotz, Cold Bay, Wrangell, Seldovia


U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan announced seven coastal communities in Alaska will receive more than $72 million in investments this year for critical maritime infrastructure. 

The funds come through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will benefit port, harbor, and dock improvement and development in communities across Alaska. The IIJA provided $2.25 billion in funds available over five years to the Port Infrastructure Development Program, which is a key funding avenue for Alaska coastal communities. These grants, from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, are also partially funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

Grant recipients (information provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation):

  1. Cold Bay Dock Infrastructure Replacement (Cold Bay): $43.3 million for the construction of a new dock in Cold Bay, in the Aleutian Islands, to complete necessary surveys, geotechnical work and analysis, design, permitting and replacement of the aging and only existing dock in the community.
  1. Cape Blossom Port Planning Project (Kotzebue): $2.4 million for the planning of a new port at Cape Blossom. The planning project will assess the viability of developing the first U.S. deep-water port north of the Arctic Circle and will include a feasibility and cost-benefit analysis.
  1. Metlakatla Port Improvements Project (Metlakatla Indian Community): $3.4 million for the improvement of the Port of Metlakatla, including the installation of barge fender and batter piles, preparation for the replacement of breakwater infrastructure, and repairs to the boat haul out mechanism.
  1. Arctic Deep Draft Project (Nome): $11.2 million for the construction of water and wastewater, fuel, power, and communications infrastructure to expand and deepen the Port of Nome.
  1. Deep Water Port Development (Wrangell): $421,000 for the planning and engineering of a 40-acre deep water port site in Wrangell in Southeast Alaska. This includes environmental risk assessment, permitting, assessment of property bulkhead and utility extension requirements, and a feasibility study update.
  1. Yakutat Small Boat Harbor (Yakutat): $8.9 million to replace the existing 60-year-old harbor in Yakutat. This includes the replacement of the floating dock, stringers, and steel pipe mooring piles, as well as the installation of a fire suppression system, covered gangway, and relocation of the existing seaplane float.
  1. Jackolof Bay Dock Replacement Project (Seldovia): $2.3 million for the replacement of the Jackolof Bay Dock, including a floating pier that supports commercial and subsistence fishing, freight services, and transportation to and from Seldovia on the Kenai Penninsula.  
  2. “It was great to get a call from Secretary Buttigieg today, sharing the good news about how Alaska fared in the competitive Port Infrastructure Development grants. Coastal Alaska communities rely on ports and harbors for transportation, trade, and subsistence activities—and that’s why I fought to ensure funding for these projects in the bipartisan infrastructure law. Today’s grant announcements are the direct result of that work, funding planning, development, and construction activities as we seek to ensure that our rural ports can support the needs of Alaska communities,” Murkowski said. “Projects like the Port of Nome aren’t just crucial for economic development and transportation improvements, but will also provide strategic capability for our country in the Arctic in furtherance of our national security interests. I’m proud to support and help advance them.”
  3. “As I often say, Alaska is a resource-rich but infrastructure-poor state. With more coastline than the rest of the United States combined, maritime infrastructure is critical to our state,” Sullivan said. “The large number of grants awarded to our coastal communities is a reflection of Alaska’s dependence on waterfronts and the great need we have across our state for infrastructure improvements. As a member of the Commerce Committee, which oversees transportation and maritime issues, I always request that senior administration officials come to Alaska to understand our state’s unique needs. The many visits by federal officials over the last few months, including Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, who I hosted in Kotzebue, are clearly paying off. I appreciated Secretary Buttigieg’s call today to share this good news. These awards are hugely beneficial to Alaska’s maritime economy and transportation abilities, and will improve our coastal supply chain.”


  1. This is not going to get Biden re-elected… Murkowski is going to be without a friend on that score. But…look at the mess in Southeast Alaska transportation and the ferry system. Travel is bad enough and no end in sight with this Congressional group and the dip stick governor we have to see improvement down there. What changed? 90% transportation cost for highways and bridges and ferry system ended with the Biden Administration. More vital and economical issues on the way down the drain with this Administration and since Murkowski is in the pot helping to drag this state to the heap of destruction more Alaskans should ask what do they want to do with mealy mouth Murkowski and the big talk of many good things to come. Where are those good things for the state? Can’t find them? Don’t waste your time looking. It isn’t going to happen. Don’t hold your breath on oil and gas, that isn’t going to happen either if Murkowski has anything to do with it. Bet you all thought she was your friend….Not so!!!

  2. Ah, the smell of pork on the grill.

    Wrangell has been flirting with the idea of becoming a player in the cruise industry. Looks like they want to take the next step.

    • Have they ever done anything about the dog situation there? If they want to be a cruiseship destination that would be a good place to start!

      • Haven’t been there in years, but the last time, no.

        But they have been hosting the odd cruise ship for the last decade or so. Money can be a great motivator.

        First time I was in Hoonah it was a textbook example for all bad SE stereotypes. Poor, run down, looked like a shanty town in places.

        Since Icy Strait really got rolling Huna Totem has plowed a lot of money into cleaning up downtown (such as it is). The Lodge is still an adventure to stay in, but it’s part of the Hoonah charm.

  3. Cold Bay gets pork money for the harbor but they can’t get a one lane road built.

    Only government can be this stupid.

  4. Keeping up with infrastructure is good investment. Too bad the communities can’t pay for it themselves out of their own budgets. We don’t know how long America has. Alaskan Millennials, GenX, and the aged and retiring/part time retired/ and retired boomers we gotta figure out how to ween ourselves off the federal government paying for our states bills. And Taxes isn’t the sole solution.

  5. Interestingly, not even one of these seven communities has external road access. These senators go to all the trouble of securing funding for these shoreside infrastructure projects only to have our state fail at providing overland access. Why are we so unable to do what the rest of the world does?

    • You should look at a map before making such a silly statement. These places are far more remote than any place in the lower 48 that has existing road access.
      1. Cold Bay is 324 miles from the short road between Naknek and King Salmon, which in turn is 326 miles from Wasilla.
      2. Nome is 483 miles from Nenana. Kotzebue is is about 200 miles from Koyukuk, which would be close to the road from Nome to Nenana.
      3. Wrangell is on an island, but if you built a bridge to nowhere across the channel, then it’s only another 100 miles across the mountains to a Canadian highway.
      4. Seldovia is only about 20 miles from Homer as crow flies, but unless you build a bridge across Katchemak Bay, you have to go around it. So it’s more like 90 miles, hugging the coastline.

      Altogether, 1400 (ish) miles of swamp, mountains, glaciers, permafrost, and rivers (at least 1,000 bridges of various sizes). In 2016, the road to nome was estimated to cost 2.7 billion, so all of these roads would come to about 7.5 billion. The minimum cost per mile for maintenance is about $5,000, for a total of 7 million per year.

      You really think your tax dollars should be spent on these roads that very few would ever use? Not me. Ports are the logical and fiscally responsible solution.

      • It’s funny you should mention maps. A quick look at the US map shows a system of bridges connecting the keys.

        A quick look at maps of Scandinavia shows a quite extensive system of roads, tunnels, and bridges. A system which is designed to work year round.

        Or look at the Yukon. A well developed system of roads connecting all communities of virtually any size.

        So a claim of “can’t be done” is replaced with “it’s too expensive or impractical”

        Again, if looked at long term it falls flat. Well made (admittedly a problem here) roads are cheaper, last longer, and much more reliable than boats, trains, or ferries.

        Roads are put in place to facilitate the moving of goods, services, and people in the most efficient manner possible. In short, to promote commerce. More commerce, prices go down and state revenues go up.

        So now it devolves into the old saw of “it only benefits X amount of people”. Let’s examine that.

        Same could have been said about the pipeline. Using that logic the Glenallen Highway should never have been built. Nor the Richardson Highway. Or the Parks. Or the Tok cutoff. For that matter the distance from Delta to Tok.

        I can easily remember a time when Delta was 4 buildings. Now it’s a growing community. I can also remember when MatSu was a very separate community from Anchorage. Certainly not a bedroom community.

        The difference? Roads.

        The only three reasons for not wanting to expand the road systems reasonably and affordability are:

        1-myopathy. Can’t see beyond the end of your nose.

        2-I got mine, who cares about the growth of the state?

        3-aren’t those mostly native communities?

        • Stop your liberal obsession with spending money that we don’t have. The Yukon has a few highways and some connecting spurs, but millions of roadless acres. None of these are as far north as Nome & Kotzebue. At a glance, their road system looks pretty much like Alaska’s, with the Alaska Highway, Parks, Richardson, Steese, Taylor – and lots of empty space between.

          From a terrain perspective, Northwest Territories is closer to Alaska. Lots of very wet places, and one road that doesn’t go very far north.

          The blanket assertion that roads lead to growth and prosperity is easily disproven. I give you Manley Lake, Chicken, and Eagle. They started small, and they stayed small because there’s no compelling reason to live there, visit, or extract resources there.

    • Good point Wayne, especially since Nome and certainly Kotzebue are ice bound much of the year, despite Global Warming Climate Change 🙄. I suppose a Fleet of Ice Breakers would be helpful, perhaps that is what Sullivan is angling for?

      • I gave up on wondering what Sawmpy wants long ago. I’m not sure he knows until Princess tells him.

        I have read the Navy is looking hard at Nome for a cold weather/deep water port. Something near Russia and China without the hassles of dealing with SF and Seattle.

  6. If we had full oil and gas production we could pay for these projects ourselves and not need Biden’s Chinese credit card cash advances. Meanwhile, Murkowski travels all over handing out money then pats herself on the back for the wonderful work she does.

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