August 2020 — Aside from the loss of the 2020 cruise season, Port Director Steve Ribuffo reported that it has been “business as usual” for the Port of Alaska. “We’ll lose 14 port calls and approximately $250,000 in revenue,” he said. “It’s not a game changer given our very diverse business model, and while it stings, it hasn’t been crippling.” Indeed, Ribuffo noted that there have been no adverse impacts for both the cargo and liquid bulk sectors supported by the Port, including three general cargo terminals, two petroleum terminals, a dry barge landing, bulk cement-handling, gantry cranes and Roll-on/Roll-off capability.
The Port has a number of activities underway as part of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment strategy that will see critical upgrades to infrastructure, ultimately improving operational efficiency, accommodating modern shipping operations as well as building in greater resiliency and optimization of facilities to keep up with changing economic and market needs. Project benefits include increased capacity; new ship-to-shore cranes to allow for larger container vessel visits; greater seismic resilience, and improved post seismic event operational capability; and a 75-year design life to reduce current maintenance requirements
In November 2019, the Port was successful in securing a $25-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) Program and another $20 million provided as part of the DOT’s Infrastructure Development Program. The funds will help complete the $214-million petroleum and cement terminal project now under construction.
“The Petroleum/Cement Terminal construction is proceeding nicely,” said Ribuffo. “Because the contractor (Pacific Pile & Marine) is from the Seattle area, there was a late start while they satisfied both Washington State and Alaska COVID-19 travel protocols, but that’s been behind us now and construction is progressing unimpeded. Most of the trestle and platform piles are in place; and the precast trestle and platform sections will be on their way to us by barge shortly.” He added that the platform and trestle structures will be completed by the end of this season and, by next summer, the fendering will be added along with the fuel and cement offloading infrastructure. He expects the project will finish on time by the end of the 2021 construction season.