This Sept. 7, 2007, file photo shows Royal Caribbean’s “Radiance of the Seas” docked in Seward, Alaska. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

This Sept. 7, 2007, file photo shows Royal Caribbean’s “Radiance of the Seas” docked in Seward, Alaska. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

Railroad project to replace Seward dock moves forward

The bill would authorize the Alaska Railroad Corporation to issue revenue bonds to finance the new dock

The Alaska Railroad Corporation announced in a press release it is one step closer to replacing and constructing a new passenger dock in Seward.

Tim Sullivan, the director of external affairs at the corporation, said Monday that House Bill 366 has been approved by the House Transportation Committee and is now awaiting a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee. The bill would authorize the Alaska Railroad Corporation to issue revenue bonds to finance the new dock.

“We are already in discussions about how the construction is going to go,” Sullivan said Monday. “We’re moving forward with the whole process at this point, just awaiting the approval for this body.”

He said the Alaska Railroad plans to start the demolition of the old dock this coming fall, but will begin with the bulk of construction in the fall of 2023.

The construction project is slated to cost close to $80 million in total.

According to the press release, the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Peter Micciche, will authorize the corporation to use the railroad’s bonding authority to raise $60 million for the project. The remaining costs and fees, around $20 million, will be paid for by the corporation’s capital funds.

Sullivan said Monday that the funding is all coming from the corporation itself.

“(We) just want to make sure that it’s clear that this is the Railroad’s bonding, not the state’s and the state has no obligation for this,” Sullivan said.

According to the release, the existing passenger dock is already owned and operated by the Alaska Railroad. The company said the dock is still safe to operate, but will need to be replaced within the next five years. It was built in 1966.

“The opportunity to finance this critical piece of Alaska’s infrastructure without having to use state dollars is vitally important,” Micciche said in the press release. “ARRC has its own bonding powers and none of the $60 million to be raised for the project will be carried by the people of Alaska.”

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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