Port of Alaska construction costs soar to nearly $2B
- An Anchorage, Alaska, official has informed the city’s Assembly Enterprise and Utility Oversight Committee that construction costs for the Port of Alaska modernization project are almost twice earlier estimates and will be approximately $1.9 billion. Municipal Manager Bill Falsey told committee members that the amount of work that needs to be done will cost more money than the city has to spend.
- CH2M was brought on as project manager before Jacobs Engineering Group acquired the company in 2017, and along with HDR, the firm has been handling design and construction for the port (formerly the Port of Anchorage). Contributing to the extra costs are higher prices for dredging, the estimate for which was originally based on a defunct plan that would have had the Army Corps of Engineers perform the work and a near doubling of the cost for a petroleum and cement terminal (from $124 million to $223 million). Falsey also said there could be additional work still unaccounted for, according to KTVA.
- Falsey told the committee that the “reasonable” way to raise the additional funds would be to "change the tariffs that control what people pay to bring petroleum, cement or cargo" into the port.
According to port officials, 90% of all the fuel and other cargo delivered to Alaska comes by ship, and the Port of Alaska handles 50% of that traffic. Its docks are 50 years old, and officials fear that the 10-year useful lifespan of the port’s dilapidated infrastructure could be cut even shorter by a potential earthquake. Once the modernization project is complete, the port should be resilient to seismic activity and severe weather.
Port of Alaska officials have made it clear that the project is not an expansion, only a modernization. That is not the case, however, for other U.S. ports.
Some ports are looking to accommodate bigger ships and more traffic. This month the Port of Oakland in California wrapped up its $67 million TraPac marine terminal project, which doubled the terminal footprint to 123 acres, added three ship-to-shore cranes and added a 1,400-foot dock that can accommodate mega container ships.
At the Port of Brunswick in Brunswick, Georgia, the state port authority is planning a 400-acre expansion, in part to handle an increase in automobile shipping traffic. The authority is also in the midst of a $1 billion dredging project for the Port of Savannah so that the facility can accept fully loaded post-Panamax ships. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed outer harbor work last year and is slated to start inner harbor dredging this year. The entire project should be finished in 2021.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter