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Nome Port Commission Discusses Ramp Replacement Project, Deep Draft Port

The launch ramp area in Nome's Inner Harbor. Photo provided by Joy Baker, used with permission (2019).

During their extended meeting on January 21, the Nome Port Commission clarified the next steps for the Deep Draft Port, discussed funding for the Ramp Improvement Project, and decided to request more funding from the Nome City Council.

“The city agreed to the 20% on the existing grant. We must commit to 20% on the increased match.”

– Joy Baker

That’s Nome’s Port Director, Joy Baker, speaking to the Nome City Council on Monday about funding for the Ramp Replacement Project. The City is expected to handle a fifth of the cost with a previous grant agreement, but the project will cost more than expected. The Port Commission spent a large portion of their meeting last week discussing how to handle the increased cost.

Bids for the project went out last November, but the bids were too high. Baker says that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has agreed to allow the City of Nome to submit an amended proposal for more money, but that will raise the amount the city owes for the ramp replacement.

“The issue with going to EDA for more money, is it elevates the city’s cost shares to some degree. In 2019, we committed $123,000 of city money as a cost share, and now it’s looking like we need to elevate that $123,000-cost share to probably in the $250-270,000 range.”

– Joy Baker

Baker says the City made an agreement to cover 20% of the cost if EDA covers the other 80%. During their meeting last week, port commissioners passed a motion to request the extra funds from the Nome Common Council. Then Monday night, the Council unanimously agreed to give the port the extra funds for the project.

Baker also wanted to clarify many details about the Arctic Deep Draft Port Project that was recently signed by Congress and Former President Donald Trump. Baker emphasized that citizens are not paying for the new Nome Port – and just because the port was authorized, does not mean that it is guaranteed to be built in Nome. The authorization is only for the feasibility study.

“So we are definitely moving into design, there’s no longer a question about that. We are hopeful that they can shave four or five months off that two-year period, which would enable a 2023 construction season if all the stars align with the funding. Authorization of the project is a big deal, but it does not mean there’s going to be construction.”

– Joy Baker

Baker says that the Alaska District expects to get their Pre-Construction Engineering and Design (PED) funds through the FY’21 U.S. Army Corps budget within a few weeks, and then the design phase for the port will begin.

More information on this project can be found on the Port of Nome page at www.nomealaska.org. Anyone with questions about this project can email Baker at jbaker@nomealaska.org.

At the beginning of the meeting, Isaac Thompson provided citizen’s comments and a proposal to turn one of the Port’s plots of land into a machine shop. The Port Commissioners were very interested and plan to develop this idea further.

During their recent work session, the Nome Port Commission reviewed the agreed-upon tariffs, including new passenger and facility fees, and where they plan to use the revenue from the tariffs. The Commission decided they will continue the discussion on tariffs during their next meeting in February.

All Commissioners were present for the meeting. Harbormaster Lucas Stotts was absent.

Image at top: the launch ramp area in Nome’s Inner Harbor. Photo provided by Joy Baker, used with permission (2019).

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