The state released its winter and spring ferry schedule last week, and despite Alaska’s budget woes, Kodiak residents shouldn’t see much disruption in service, according to Alaska Marine Highway spokesman Jeremy Woodrow.
“Really are no significant changes. For over 50 years now, your boat has been the Tustumena, and the Tustumena will continue to run this winter. The Tustumena is schedule for overhaul in March and April of the winter schedule, and that’s when the Kennicott will come back on line,” Woodrow said. “The Kennicott, though however, at that time will be running the Bellingham cross-gulf, so it won’t be weekly service, it’ll be every other week when the Kennicott is filling in for the Tustumena during that time.”
He said passengers in Prince William Sound were close to seeing gaps in their service, but schedule planners were able to shuffle some ships around.
“There was going to be a service gap this fall due to the overhaul schedule of the Aurora, but we were able to fix that with the overhaul schedules for the Fairweather and the Aurora. So what’s going to happen is the Aurora is going to go into its overhaul period as scheduled and the Fairweather is going to transit up to Prince William Sound and fill in that gap in service,” he said.
Woodrow said that the state is moving forward in securing a replacement for the aging Tustumena, and hopes to have the project listed on the STIP, or Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan soon.
“That should be coming out in the next round, showing that we plan on spending that over the next four budget cycles, federal fiscal cycles, I should say. Then we have to go to the Legislature to receive the authority to spend that federal money,” he said. “And so we hope to receive that authority that authority this next legislative cycle and then from there we can work on procuring a shipyard to then build the Tustumena’s replacement. So, if things went as planned, it could be somewhere in the next four to five years.”
The winter schedule goes into effect on October 1st. You can find it at FerryAlaska.com.