Alaska, Business, Economics, Maritime

Future of Alaska Railroad Docks & Terminal

Seward’s Cruise ship terminal was the site of Tuesday’s meeting & will be replaced with a larger structure in the coming 5-10 years.

On Tuesday evening, Alaska Railroad (AKRR) staff led by Project Manager Brian Lindamood presented current information about the Railroad’s plans to replace and expand the Dale R. Lindsey Cruise Ship terminal and the Alaska Railroad owned docks. A group of approximately fifty Seward citizens listened attentively as Lindamood presented the results of a two year study undertaken find the best options for how to replace the docks and terminal building while maintaining usability of these facilities. The process of replacing these facilities will take approximately two years to complete. Lindamood stated that the AKRR is searching for a plan that would allow cruise ship traffic and freight to continue to flow through Seward during that two year period.

Alaska Railroad has seen an upsurge in passenger traffic on their Coastal Classic line, which runs between Anchorage and Seward mid-May through mid-September. Lindamood presented this as a bright spot and a source of continued revenue for the railroad as they plan for how to fund the upcoming construction. This route brings visitors to Seward for overnight as well as day trips, as it allows visitors 7 hours to spend in Seward before boarding the train back to Anchorage. This traffic would largely be unaffected by any of the proposed plans for docking and terminal expansion, as it is set back half a mile from the facilities needing to be replaced.

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Seward residents listen as AKRR Project Manager Brian Lindamood presents proposals for the future of Seward’s cruise ship dock and terminal building.

The current Alaska Railroad docks were constructed in 1966, as part of the rebuilding of Seward following the 1964 earthquake. Two docks were built longitudinally, extending into Resurrection Bay. Later, the Dale R. Lindsey intermodal terminal was constructed on top of the docks. This choice presents challenges for how to replace the docks & what to do with the building. Lindamood explained that the building still has years left on its life span, but that dismantling and reassembling it would be cost-prohibitive. As a result, many of the proposed plans include building a new facility, which would better allow for the days when Seward receives two cruise ships per day. The current building is 26,000 square feet, while the proposed replacement buildings would be 40,000 feet.
Lindamood said that Alaska Railroad’s “top priority is the passenger dock.” The cruise ship schedule for Seward includes at least 60 scheduled dockings of major cruise ships. Additionally, the passenger dock is used for logistical freight handling for freight being transported to western Alaska. Alaska Railroad plans to make a decision about which option they will choose for dock and facility replacement in July of this summer. At that point, they will begin the 18 month planning process for beginning construction. Lindamood expects to return to Seward in the fall to present an update to the community of Seward.

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