Alaska in Brief

Alaska will receive $285 million in federal money to boost state ferry service

By: - January 26, 2023 6:00 am

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Columbia is seen in drydock on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, in Ketchikan, Alaska. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Federal Transit Administration has awarded more than a quarter-billion dollars to the Alaska Marine Highway System, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said Wednesday.

In a written statement, Alaska’s two U.S. senators said the grants, authorized under the 2021 federal infrastructure bill, cover six projects and amount to more than $285 million for the state ferry system.

The grants were awarded under a competitive application process, but Alaska’s congressional delegation wrote the infrastructure bill with hopes of steering the money to the state.

The projects receiving funding:

  • $72 million for upgrades to the Matanuska, Columbia, Tazlina and Kennicott;
  • $68.5 million toward the $325 million cost of a new Tustumena-class ferry;
  • $45 million for ferry docks in Juneau, Cordova, Pelican, Tatitlek and Chenega;
  • $46 million for a proposed electric ferry to travel on short runs between Ketchikan and Metlakatla, Haines to Skagway, or Homer to Seldovia;
  • $8 million to design a new mainline ferry; and
  • $44.8 million to pay for additional operating hours to run ferries to rural communities.

All of the grants require the state to match a portion of the federal contribution with additional spending. Altogether, the state will pay roughly $105 million in matching funds, according to figures provided by the senators.

The grants announced Wednesday were not included in Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s December proposal for the budget that starts in July. However, an amended budget will be published in mid-February.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the total amount of the state’s match.


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected].