“This is very much of an informational meeting,” MTAB chair Robert Venables told the Mirror on the sidelines of the meeting.
“We’re engaging communities and user groups, ridership as well as interacting with the department (of transportation) itself… We are very pleased to be here to engage the community on the Tustumena replacement and some of the other projects like pier refurbishment,” Venables added.
The final design is seen being completed by June 15, 2015.
“The Tusty is 50-plus years old and ready for retirement,” MTAB’s vice chair Joshua Howes said at a reception for MTAB members at the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center. “It is the pride of the fleet as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great, great, great ship. It’ll be nice to see her replaced and move on to something better.”
Christa Hagan, a transportation planner for the marine highway system under the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, told the board during her slide presentation about the replacement ferry’s current preliminary specifications.
“She’ll be larger and faster than the current Tustumena and not as large or as fast as the Kennicott,” Hagan said.
The boat will be 34 feet longer, 12 feet wider and two-feet deeper. It will have a capacity for 76 more people than the current layout. The cafeteria is seen having “significantly longer meal hours” than the current one. Passenger decks will be increased to facilitate 300 passengers by installing larger lifeboats.
The preliminary designs also call for more staterooms and a larger vehicle elevator.
“This is the most important element on this ship,” Hagan said. “It defines the uniqueness of this ship.”
The design of the vehicle elevator is similar to that of the Kennicott, and will fit four cars instead of the current two, with faster loading and unloading times.
Hagan characterized the 50-year-old Tustumena as “tired, but still capable.” The timeline sees final design on the new ship begun in October along with contract design.
“Right now we have all the funding available and all the funding needed and required to get to final design,” Hagan said.
One of the concerns raised at the meeting was whether a larger Tustumena would fit in the current pier dimensions in Kodiak harbor.
“The larger ship is going to encroach two private enterprises around Pier 1, that’s Petro Marine and Trident. They were here this morning and their representatives had input,” said City Mayor Pat Branson, also a member of MTAB.
Just how Kodiak piers could be engineered to accommodate a new, larger ferry remains to be seen, but MTAB was confident it was still early enough in the process to iron out those details.
“The process works,” Venables said. “The department issued a design concept. The community took a look at that and raised some good questions about what size vessels would fit where, at which piers. We a good healthy discussion about that this morning, and what really came out of that was the fact that there still was an opportunity for the community to really continue its planning process.”
“When this larger vessel gets built in the next 5-10 years we can make sure that the right infrastructure is built concurrently with that to accommodate those concerns,” Venables added.
Community input from the city and the island at large were a major part of the current process.
“I’m sure that we’ll have more community input as this design process goes forward with the completion set for June 15 next year,” Branson said.
Contact Peter J. Mladineo at email@example.com