Plans to dredge and rebuild Petersburg's historic North Harbor are closer than they ever have been before, said Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen.
Funding is available for the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the harbor. With the assistance of U.S. Senator Mark Begich, more than $3.4 million is earmarked for the project that is expected to get underway in September.
“The harbor was built pre-statehood, so it's the Corps’ responsibility to do the dredging,” Wollen said.
If all goes as planned, initial dredging will start just outside of the harbor and then work inward. According to Wollen, it would be ideal for the dredging to be completed and new pilings put in place before other projects begin.
Congress appropriated an additional $30 million last year in funding to carry out navigation and maintenance work of ongoing small, remote and subsistence harbor projects like those we have in Alaska, Begich said in a press release.
“Senator Begich was the point person on this project, but both (US) senators worked hard on this,” Wollen said.
The second major project is a rebuild of the North Harbor. Funds for the rebuild will be shared between the city and state. The city has $3.5 million for the project and if state lawmakers sign-off on a matching grant, another $3.5 million will be provided by the state. The request for funds being granted is currently ranked fifth in the state.
“We are hoping to coordinate the two projects,” Wollen said.
The new float system will be larger, and positioned about 50 feet north of the current system. The plan also includes the addition of about 12 more stalls, including more stalls for boats 48-feet and longer.
Another planned project is for the construction of a drive down float. This is a $16 million project. A drive down float would allow vehicles to drive down to the boat stalls, a feature that is unavailable now.
“The North Harbor is the cornerstone of the three harbors, it's the oldest, it's historical, it's convenient because it's so close to downtown,” Wollen said. “A lot of people have had their stalls for decades.”
All of the boats in the North Harbor will have to be relocated during the dredging and rebuild. The boats will be moved to “every available nook and cranny,” she said. “We've done it before when we rebuilt the Middle Harbor, we'll do it again.”
The final phase of the plan will be for a new parking lot, but Wollen said, there is no timetable set for that plan.
Wollen would like the dredging to begin in September after the fishing season has passed and things have started to slow down, she said. “Our slow time is good construction time.”