Construction is continuing on the new city dock in Chignik Bay. The roughly $11 million project has been the top capital improvement project for the Lake and Peninsula Borough, and should be ready in plenty of time to receive the Ferry Vessel Tustamena when it starts the Aleutian run in May.
For years the “Trusty Tusty” has tied up at the privately owned Trident Seafoods dock in Chignik Bay.
That dock was in need of repairs, some of which the city and borough agreed to pay for, but they were just band aid fixes.
Borough manager Nathan Hill says there was no guarantee the ferry route would continue to include the Chigniks without the new dock.
“The communities of Chignik Bay, Chignik Lake, and Lagoon, and Perryville, have all depended on the Alaska Marine Highway System now for a couple decades, and it’s a great resource,” he said.
The Lake and Pen Borough and city of Chignik Bay contributed a combined $4 million, and the state covered another $7 million to see the dock built.
The project went out to bid late in 2015, construction started last fall, and Hill said it’s being built mostly on time and near budget.
“We were anticipating the project to be complete by Christmas and ran into some conditions that prevented that, but we’re not too far off track,” he said. “I’d say a good estimate on completion would be the end of January, beginning of February.”
The only setback to date, he says, was that material that was to be used to fill in the dock did not work out as intended. Hill briefed the borough assembly on that in November.
“The weather conditions and the material they had available just wasn’t working out very well,” he said. “There was a lot of standing water in the material so they couldn’t compact it. Long story short, they will be hauling a substantial amount of fill in from elsewhere with the barge.”
He said the new material came with a price tag of a little over a million dollars, a tenth of which the city and the borough were required to pick up.
Don Bumpus, a now retired fisherman from Chignik Lagoon, said he has been pushing to see this much-needed dock built for years.
“I think we were the last community on the Alaska Peninsula to get a city dock,” Bumpus said. “We’ve always used the two processing docks that were there, and they’re in pretty bad shape now. One of them is really bad. Just to see that thing as far along as it is now is just really impressive.”
Beyond getting the ferry in and out during the summer months, there’s hope the new dock will encourage economic growth around the area’s lucrative fisheries and resource extraction.
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