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Nome Port Commission Plans to Spend $25,000 on Repairs to Thornbush Pad

Five men sitting at tables in a meeting with paperwork in front of them

Nome’s Port Commission covered a lot of ground during their meeting last week, including moving forward with repairs on the West Gold Dock, filling in the Thornbush Pad, and finding funding for the Port of Nome Anode Replacement Project.

The Port work session focused on finding a solution for the Thornbush Pad, an industrial site that has experienced significant material loss in recent years. Since the last meeting, the landscape has been surveyed to determine the worst areas of the Thornbush pad and fill those areas to see how they respond over time.

Filling in the most severe depressions with gravel would cost $25,000. Port Director Joy Baker says there should be enough funds in the budget to buy the gravel and alleviate some of the degradation.

“I found a little money and I think we could probably afford, between the start of next season, to do this between the end of this budget and the start of next budget – certainly around the 2,500 cubic yard range.”

– Joy Baker

This solution is only a short-term one, as the Port Commission is unsure how much the site will continue to deteriorate. Commissioner Russell Rowe emphasized the importance of trying to alleviate the situation now before it becomes a larger issue.

“It’s probably going to continue. I think everyone is probably in agreement on that … If we don’t fill the low areas that we’ve had surveyed and identified, it’s 25 grand this time and if we put it off for a couple more years it might be $50,000 or $70,000 the next time.”

– Russell Rowe

The Port Commission also discussed an incident on October 18th when a tug boat lost control of a barge and damaged the Middle and West Gold Docks. Nome’s Harbormaster Lucas Stotts explains:

“He made the call to come in during the evening, when he didn’t have visual of the outer harbor water. He towed in towards the docks, but as he slowed down, the bridle, the chain, started dragging on the bough of the barge, acted like a big anchor basically; so the front slowed down and the back kept going, spun around right toward all three of the docks, missed the city docks, and clipped the end of the middle dock and south end of the West Gold.”

– Lucas Stotts

The cost of repairs will be $263,000. DeForge Maritime Towing, the owner of the tug, is assuming responsibility and will handle those costs to repair Nome’s damaged docks.

The Port Commission also tried to determine which plan for the port road improvements they wanted to implement. They did not decide on one specific plan to follow for now, but the commissioners were adamant about no roundabouts. Stotts explains that roundabouts historically do not do well in the United States, even though they are statistically safer.

“Any time you have vehicles crossing lanes or having to look and make a decision, they call it a conflict. And a roundabout was like 33 conflicts in a thousand vehicles versus hundreds out of all the other options. But the note, it said on there expressly that roundabouts have ‘a high rate of failure in the US.’”

– Lucas Stotts

The next Nome Port Commission meeting will be held on December 17th.

Since the last commission meeting, the City of Nome has received and opened bids for the Port of Nome Anode Replacement Project. The City of Nome intends to award the contract to Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. for a base bid of  $219,515.

Image at top: In their usual meeting room at City Hall, all Port Commissioners were present in-person or online for their recent meeting. Photo taken by Cathy Rubano, KNOM (November, 2020)

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