By Larry Persily
Wrangell Sentinel Publisher 

Another year of state ferry budget stress

 

January 7, 2021

Photo courtesy of Michael Penn

Engine troubles forced the Matanuska out of service in late January, leaving Wrangell without any ferries until the Columbia came out of winter layup and went back to work mid-April. The state was unable to substitute another ferry for the Matanuska because all of the fleet was either in winter layup, out for repairs, or held out of service to save money. Mechanics Brian Lindgern, left, and Mike Strang, of Vigor Alaska, worked on one of the Matanuska's engines as it was tied up in Juneau on Jan. 31.

WRANGELL - Between state budget cuts, a mainline vessel engine breakdown, a halt to port calls in Prince Rupert, B.C., and COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Alaska Marine Highway System has struggled the past year to provide service to Wrangell and the rest of Southeast.

Under the governor's proposed budget for the state fiscal year that starts July 1, the ferry system would have even less money to provide service.

"Woefully inadequate," Ketchikan Rep. Dan Ortiz, who also represents Wrangell, described the governor's budget plan on Dec. 30.

"That's where it is right now," Ortiz said. "We'...



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