Nome Port Director Joy Baker presented her latest report to the Nome Common Council on Monday, highlighting the status of the Arctic Deep Draft port expansion project.
Baker says the permitting process for the incidental hazard authorization and the biological assessment of the project is underway and on schedule.
“The city’s design engineering firm, PND, is the contractor that is doing the environmental permit application for the National Marine Fisheries,” Baker said. “They’re getting closer to answering all the queries from the agencies. And it looks like we should be hearing something on that by the end of April or early May, unless other questions pop up, but for now, things appear to be going well.”
The city is still waiting, however, for an agreement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will move the cost-sharing agreement between the federal government and local government.
“We are still waiting for the Corps headquarters to release the project partnership agreement that we have to have in place in order to migrate to the 90/10 cost share,” Baker said. “We’re not there yet, but there is no concern about getting there because the 90/10 cost share, under the language that was passed in the National Defense Authorization Act, has become law.”
According to Baker, a grant application has been filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s to fund design work for the 2nd and 3rd phases of the port expansion. A second grant application is being drafted to fund construction of Phase 1 utilities.
A Department of Homeland Security grant application is also being submitted for a replacement VHF radio system, which Baker calls “necessary” to ensure port security. The upgrades are needed to bring the port in line with requirements for vessels laden with fuel or foreign-flagged vessels that are in U.S. waters.
“Our VHF radios have seen a lot of wear and tear,” Baker said. “We need to upgrade our system between the ports infrastructure, as well as public works, because those guys come out and help us do security and they help us tie up the vessels and control the secure areas.”
Baker added that recruitment is also underway at the Port of Nome to hire a full-time purchasing and office manager that is shared with the Public Works Department.
Image at top: PND’s model rendering for the design of a potential Arctic Deep Draft Port in Nome. Photo from Port of Nome, used with permission (2019).