An effort to reform the Alaska Marine Highway System takes another step this month.
Executive Director Robert Venables said the effort has been underway for about two years.
“We’re going to be rolling out the major recommendations in a draft, kind of a strategic operations business plan,” he said.
Southeast Conference and the state ferry system are examining ways to save money while maintaining service to port communities.
Venables said the state’s fiscal crisis is just part of the discussion.
“There’s also the way the fleet itself is structured, the way the terminals are constructed and just kind of the overall way we can bring more standardization to operations,” he said.
He said the plan should be finished by the end of the year.
The conference is leading the effort, which included public meetings around the state. The organization formed in 1958 to push for establishing the ferry system.
Venables said the reform effort fits into this year’s meeting theme, which is Navigating the Southeast Economy.
“We all are very well versed in the economic challenges that the state is having, communities are having and businesses are having. (There are) just challenges on every front. And we know with some stick-to-itiveness and working together and some good navigating skills, we can get through this next period of time we have ahead of us,” he said.
About 60 speakers are scheduled to discuss timber, tourism, mining, fisheries and workforce development. Venables expects 200 or more attendees.
- While this particular virus isn’t doing widespread damage, its emergence opens the door for other viruses to pop up between oceans.
- The Alaska Marine Highway System recently deployed the Tazlina to restore winter service to some Southeast communities. But the ferry can’t serve Angoon right now — its ramp is broken.
- The Juneau Police Department reports that two people have died in a single-car crash near Cohen Drive Thursday morning. Additionally, two people who were in the car were medevaced out of Juneau.
- With this project, Alaska transportation officials are relying more heavily on public dialogue from Juneau residents.