June 14, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 24

Rainforest Islands Ferry delays launch until spring of 2013

The Rainforest Islands Ferry was scheduled to launch in July 2012. Due to funding and design delays the launch of this service has been pushed back to the spring of 2013.

City of Coffman Cove representative, Heather Hedges said, “Originally the launch date was delayed because of funding.”

The City of Coffman Cove was attempting to receive funds from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We were told that the USDA was no longer funding these projects,” Hedges said. “We tried other avenues for funds, but came up short.”

The USDA re-entered the arena with funds needed.

“Now we are waiting for the naval architect to get the plans to us,” Hedges said. “The planning board will meet at the end of the week to decide on a launch date.”

The bids for prospective shipyards is also a major hold up. “Once we have the bids in and the plans from the architect we hope there will be no more delays.” Hedges said.

When operational, the Rainforest Islands Ferry’s new public passenger/vehicle service will connect Wrangell, Petersburg – via South Mitkof – and Prince of Wales Island – via Coffman Cove – four days a week, with additional service to Ketchikan three days a week. Throughout the winter, service will be maintained three days a week between Wrangell, Petersburg, and Prince of Wales Island. This reliable, fast, comfortable, and scenic ferry service is facilitated by completion and paving of highways to/from the ports of Coffman Cove and South Mitkof.

The Rainforest Islands Ferry will provide mini-coach service connecting with ferry arrivals and departures on both Prince of Wales Island and Mitkof Island, enabling highway transits by ferry passengers without vehicles, including passengers with carry-on kayaks and canoes. In addition to baggage service for passengers, the ferry and mini-coaches will carry parcel express throughout its service area.

The Rainforest Islands Ferry will feature a selection of observation deck, recliner lounge, and coffee shop seating, and will offer food and beverage service.

“There may be some minor changes to the schedule once the service gets going,” Hedges said. “These changes will only make it more convenient for our passengers.”

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