Alaska ports and harbors: marine engineering, construction projects advance.

Author:Stomierowski, Peg


Leading ports and harbors in Alaska are flexing some new infrastructure muscle to help the state, amid economic uncertainties, be poised and ready for bigger things.


At the Port of Anchorage, work has been progressing on the facility's north end. A landlord port and multitasking entity in the model of its own director, former Gov. William Sheffield, the port plans to bolster the number of landings by ships, tugs and barges as it prepares more ground for lease.

For his part, Sheffield readily acknowledges the challenges of being a working dock under expansion construction. The port is adding 135 acres and constructing new docks. While safely maintaining old docks is expensive, he explained, the expansion requires creation of land areas to the north and south for ships to use during dock-replacement work.

Sheffield turned for leadership direction with the project to the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration. The agency, in turn, contracted with Integrated Concepts and Research Corp. of Alexandria, Va., with offices in Anchorage, to provide program-management services.

The expansion, port and project managers said, is pumping $75 million to $100 million a year into the economy. It provided more than 400 jobs in 2009 and work for at least 72 contractors, design firms and industry support companies. Numbers this year were expected to be similar or greater, and, depending on funding, the work could continue for several years or more.

Among its many uses, the port serves five military bases (Elmendorf, Eielson, and forts Richardson, Wainwright and Greeley), with Elmendorf housing the headquarters for the Army Corps of Engineers Alaska District. The additional land development is to serve industrial commercial use and to support rapid military deployment from Alaska's bases.

New docks will be equipped for cold ironing, Sheffield said, so ships can shut off their engines and plug in to shore power. The improvements will also mean lower fuel emissions and efficiencies and better discharging facilities for storm drainage, he said.

Paul French, project manager for West Construction, a subcontractor in the latest phase of the port expansion, explained that the port's docks are designed primarily for heavy cargo loads. Changes in modern dock design, he said, reflect in part the preponderance of larger equipment and heavier, more efficient containers. In general, as larger cranes and other heavy equipment move farther out, the facilities under the cranes have to be built up and the larger vessels have to draft more water.

Firms involved in recent design, engineering and inspection work at the port, according to Lyn Dokoozian, port intermodal expansion program manager, have included PND, Coffman (corrosion engineering), Shaw Group, GBB, and Dowl HKM.

Besides West's subcontracting work on terminal redevelopment, Manson Construction has a $33.2 million contract with the Corps, partially funded by the American Recovery and...

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