Port of Alaska Wins $25M Grant for Critical Repairs

Winter operations at the Port of Alaska (file image courtesy POA)

Published Nov 7, 2019 8:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $25 million grant to the Port of Alaska (Anchorage's seaport) under the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) program. The funds will go towards the first phase of the port's modernization program - in particular, the renovation of its cement and petroleum dock, which is falling into disrepair. 

The port says that the dock's concrete pilings are cracking and might not survive in the event of an extreme earthquake - a real threat, as more than half of the quakes in the United States occur in Alaska. The project aims to rebuild the pier to withstand extreme seismic events like the infamous 1964 quake, and it will give the facility a new 75-year lease on life. 

Local officials expressed their gratitude for the grant, which will help fill part of an $80 million funding gap in the project's first phase. The BUILD funds are "a critical piece of the missing money problem and gives us a high degree of confidence that we will complete the new terminal in 2021,” said Anchorage municipal manager Bill Falsey in a press release. 

The remaining amount will likely come from a port tariff increase, subject to approval by the local assembly. The tariff is a controversial proposal, as it would raise the price of consumer goods for many residents across the state; however, as the port could be forced to start closing down unsafe facilities if repairs are not made within 10 years' time, 

“The Port of Alaska – which provides the vast majority of the food, construction materials, fuel, and other vital goods that Alaskans rely on – is in danger from crumbling infrastructure,” wrote Alaska's congressional delegation in announcing the grant on Thursday. “Alaskans have been sounding the alarm about the critical state of Alaska’s primary import terminal for years and, thankfully, the Trump administration and [Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao] have listened and are taking action to help us."