State officials say they have no immediate plans to move the marine highway reservations office from Juneau to Ketchikan. But they confirm it is on a long-term list of possible system changes.
The office remained in the capital city when most other headquarters functions were relocated about seven years ago.
Ferry chief Mike Neussl says the Ketchikan headquarters does not have the space or bandwidth capacity needed for reservations.
“It’s not moving yet, or may be never moving. But it’s being studied based on looking at all different efficiencies and ways to make the marine highway system more efficient. We look at all avenues to do that,” he says.
The reservations office has 22 jobs. It’s in a relatively new building next to the state Transportation Department’s Southeast regional office near Juneau’s Glacier Highway.
Neussl says a move has been on a list of budget-review items for several years without action.
“It was in there again this year in that discussion as a potential efficiency for the marine highway system. It would take advantage of using that staff more than just for reservations, but making it more of a combined reservations and marketing staff. Right now our marketing staff is in Ketchikan and our reservations staff is in Juneau,” he says.
The marine highway system’s headquarters is in the old Ketchikan Pulp Company’s administration building in Ward Cove. Neussl is based in Juneau.
State officials are considering options for a new building at a nearby site. They’ve purchased land and have money for design.