Alaska’s only Arctic deep draft port will get hundreds of millions of dollars from infrastructure bill

A model rendering for the design of a potential Arctic Deep Draft Port in Nome. (Courtesy PND Engineers)

Alaska’s congressional delegation announced on Jan. 19 that the Port of Nome will receive a quarter of a billion dollars for future construction. The significant financial boost for Alaska’s only Arctic deep draft port comes from the Infrastructure Act passed in 2021. There is a deep draft port in Dutch Harbor, but that is not located in Arctic waters.

This $250 million has been a long time coming, Senator Lisa Murkowski said.

“What it now means is that with money that is coming, now the real work begins,” Murkowski said. “This news about the port expansion is incredibly great, but we also know we’re going to have other projects coming our way, whether it’s the build out of broadband capacity, water and wastewater … So we’re going to be busy in Alaska.”

In the final infrastructure package signed into law in November, $250 million was earmarked for Alaska ports, specifically “remote and subsistence harbor construction.” Although this is the full amount the Port of Nome was awarded, it won’t necessarily take away money from other port projects in the state, Murkowski said.

“Because again if you look at that broader Infrastructure Bill, we did right by the port infrastructure. So it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s coming to remote and subsistence,” explained Murkowski. “And again as we look into more details, we’ll get some better definition there.”

For example, Senator Dan Sullivan mentioned in a similar announcement on Jan. 19 that the subsistence harbor project in Elim will receive $3,335,000 from the same funding source. That money will go towards planning engineering and the design for Elim’s harbor.

Alaska will receive a total of $925 million from recent appropriations announced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Sullivan.

More details on the timeline for the funding and next steps for the Port of Nome’s Deep Draft Port are forthcoming.

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