Next winter’s marine highway schedule out

The ferry LeConte docks at Juneau's Auke Bay terminal. Next winter's draft ferry schedule leaves it tied up for repair and overhaul for 5 1/2 months. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

The ferry LeConte docks at Juneau’s Auke Bay terminal. Next winter’s draft ferry schedule leaves it tied up for repair and overhaul for 5 1/2 months. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Alaska Marine Highway officials want your comments on next fall and winter’s ferry sailings.

A draft schedule for October of 2014 through April of 2015 is now available online. A teleconferenced public hearing will be on April 8th.

The schedule lists some changes, many due to off-season layups and repairs.

Read the schedule documents.

For example, the small Southeast ferry LeConte will get a new bow thruster next winter. It’s been breaking down and delaying sailings.

General Manager John Falvey says the thruster controls the side-to-side movement of the forward hull.

“It’s old. It’s 20 to 25 years old. And in this next federal project this winter we’re going to completely replace that bow thruster and we hope that those problems will come to an end,” Falvey says.

The Aurora, the LeConte’s sister ship, will sail in its place. It’s usually in Prince William Sound.

The Kennicott and the Chenega will also be in for repairs next winter.

All 11 marine highway vessels will also undergo routine overhauls.

The finished schedule will only be posted online. Falvey says the printed brochures used for decades were expensive and sometimes wrong.

“Our system is so complex that book, in many cases … would be outdated before it was printed, because of changes. This changes and that changes. So the information you get online is up to the minute,” Falvey says.

The April 8 schedule teleconference will take Southeast testimony starting at 10 a.m. Comments from those in Southcentral and Southwest will follow at 1 p.m.

To join in, dial (800) 315-6338. The conference code is 3902#.

Written comments can be emailed to dot.amhs.comments@alaskagov.org or faxed to (907) 586-8365 by April 5th.

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