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Nome Port Commission begins planning development of deep draft port project

From the Governor’s visit in August to the Port of Nome sponsoring and presenting at the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators, the Arctic Deep Draft Project is moving forward in development. Now the Nome Port Commission is spending more and more time discussing what development will look like for this new port.

In a work session, the commission discussed what kinds of vessels the Deep Draft Port would accommodate and attract. The expansion means larger vessels coming to Nome. But Commissioner Derek McClarty emphasized making plans that accommodate smaller vessels.

“It’s a great drawing, but I just don’t see any small boats in this picture. And I do agree, economy of scale makes sense … But I can’t discredit the small operators, either,” McClarty said. “I think that this design, in particular, is going to be very hard for anybody with a small boat, small vessel, small dredge, small anything, to go out to 40 feet of water and then head west.”

Port Director Joy Baker proposed a letter-writing campaign that will be sent out to prospective users of the deep draft port. The letters will serve to not only advertise the Port of Nome, but to help the commission understand what potential users are looking for.

Scott Henderson summed up that as the port moves forward, more of these conversations about potential business and services need to keep happening.

“A lot of the works up to this point have been about funding and trying to line up all of the things in the political entities in the funding, you know, trying to make it all work. And I think now that we’ve got a lot of that accomplished, a lot of the work now is reaching out … ‘What would you like to see the port look like and the services and those kinds of things?’ So it’s also finding out what the needs are, what the desires are, but also sort of reaching out,” Henderson said.

The deep draft port still has at least a year until it completes the design phase, and the charrette with the corps has yet to be scheduled. The commission plans on having more work sessions and open houses to continue discussing port development. Citizens are always welcome to attend these meetings and voice their opinions.

The Port has also been busy finishing up summer projects. During the regular meeting, Lucas Stotts shared that the anodes that protect the docks from corrosion have been replaced. The Launch Ramp Replacement project, however, is facing some issues and may be delayed. The ramp was initially expected to be back in commission by mid-September. The aqua bladders used to create a dam around the project area have sprung a leak and contractor STG could not continue work as scheduled.

Although STG successfully dewatered the ramp area, they still have a plan if the ramp will not be completed in time.

“They would dress up and compact a nice gravel slope that would still suffice to get everybody off the water even though that’s not the final project,” Stotts said.

The Port is meeting with engineers this week to determine the best course of action for the project. The city will not be responsible for any extra costs caused by the delay.

The next port meeting will be Oct. 21.

Image at top: Port Director Joy Baker discussing the Arctic Deep Draft Port Project at an open house in July 2021.

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