Anchorage has struggled for years with how to finance repairs to the aging Port of Alaska, the state’s premier cargo import terminal located in Anchorage. A failed expansion project that began in 2003 and ceased in 2010 consumed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and left the port in worse condition than before. The cost estimate for a smaller project to repair and modernize the port has risen from $500 million in late 2014 to as much as $2 billion today.
Port facilities include three general cargo terminals, two petroleum terminals, a dry barge landing, bulk cement-handling, gantry cranes and roll-on/roll-off capability. The port supplies the majority of food, fuel and durable goods to the state. Imported cargo moves across Anchorage docks to final destinations in homes and businesses of 85 percent of all Alaskans.
Allowing the Port of Alaska to fail simply isn’t an option. This was the message CIRI executive Greg Razo delivered to the audience at Alaska Day 2019, held Jan. 16-17 in Washington, D.C. The event, sponsored by the Alaska Federation of Natives, gathered together representatives of three main sectors in Alaska— the Alaska Native community, U.S. military and oil industry—to share critical information and hold candid discussions. More than 50 speakers presented to 150 participants during the day-and-a-half-long event.
“The port is busy trying to figure out ways to finance its modernization project,” Razo said. “Anchorage is committed to it. It has been explained to the state and the federal governments how important this project is. The port is built on pilings that were installed in 1961 that have eroded to less than three-quarters of their full thickness. It’s a safety hazard, and it’s such an important piece of infrastructure to Alaska that it needs to be protected. If we want to grow resource and business development, if we want to continue to support a prosperous Alaska, we need to pay attention to this project.”
For more information, visit www.portofalaska.com.