Surprise Visit Shines Spotlight on Deep Draft Port Funding

Locals were recently surprised to hear Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy paid an unannounced visit to Nome to discuss the city’s deep-draft port.

“If you get a port here obviously you can take in a lot more traffic, which hopefully means more jobs, more commerce for the area here, whether its servicing smaller cruise ship lines that are coming over the northwest passage, whether it’s helping the folks here that are doing some mining, potential Coast Guard work in the future,” Dunleavy said.

While the port may bring economic growth to the region, it is an expensive project. The governor noted that the infrastructure bill making its way through Congress may be pivotal for funding the project. He noted convincing Washington to agree is “not going to be an easy task” and that details may not be clear for a while. In the meantime, locals are moving the process forward and planning for the future. The construction and design phases may take more than five years.

As time passes, the premise of building the deep draft port to meet increasing traffic demands in the Arctic is looking more and more viable. During a recent port commission meeting, Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts gave an update for next summer’s cruise season.

“Right now we have 27 cruise stops that are being looked into for next season. The bulk of those would be later, in the tail end of July, and then heavy all August and September. If that number pans out, it would be more than one a week that whole time, so it would be extremely busy,” Stotts said.

Image at top: Port Director Joy Baker explains the plans for Nome’s new deep draft port.