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Nome’s Arctic Deep Draft Port project approaches milestone

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Nome’s Arctic Deep Draft Port contractors must have 95% of the design finalized by the end of November and so far, they are on track.

Phase one of the project is picking up speed and the deep draft port will be built, Port Director Joy Baker said at the beginning of November.

“The design is just about to crest over the 95%. We completed the 65% at June 30,” Baker explained.

There are a few issues the project design team is jointly working out currently, but those will be resolved in time to meet the deadline, according to Baker.

If everything continues on schedule, Baker expects phase one of this deep draft port project to go out to bid for construction in March or April of 2023. Still, construction for phase one will have to be broken out over more than one season so that the edge of the breakwater is not exposed to storms and left vulnerable over winter, Baker said.

“The first phase is probably going to last three seasons, could be a fourth. Because it’s going to take them that long to build the breakwater out, come back, and have the other attributes pitched up with it,” Baker said.

Phase two will involve more of the dredging of the actual deep water channel, but that work may not start until 2026, according to Baker.

As previously reported, the Arctic Deep Draft Port project is being hit by inflation, just like many other materials and services around the country. The Corps has not yet released final numbers on the project’s updated cost but originally the federal government set the price at $333-million over two years ago, Baker said.

“But they have given us a heads up that the cost of the project on both sides, is seeing inflation. The price of steel is very high. The price of the utility pipes, again some of them are steel, are very high. And the of course fuel to do any of those items, and buy the rock…Everything has gone up,” Baker stated.

The cost of structural steel on average has almost doubled since late 2020 when the Deep Draft Port project was first authorized by Congress, according to some market prices.

The City of Nome is also waiting to see what happens in Congress this session, because the 2022 Water Resources Development Act or WRDA contains language that could greatly reduce the amount the city would have to pay for the port project.

Hear the full update on where Nome’s Arctic Deep Draft Port stands as of this month below:

Image at top: Port Director Joy Baker discusses the Arctic Deep Draft Port Project at an open house in Nome in July 2021. Photo from KNOM file.

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