By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a permit for a cruise ship dock in southeast Alaska, but the dock’s opening date is unclear, agency officials said.

The permit was issued Tuesday for the 1,300-foot (400-meter), two-berth cruise ship dock in Ward Cove, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Juneau, Ketchikan Daily News reported Thursday.

The permit was approved after two months of public comment and four months of review, officials said.

The permit was issued to Power Systems & Supplies, owned by Dave and Andrew Spokely of Ketchikan, and the Ward Cove Dock Group will own and operate the dock, agency officials said.

The company has a 30-year agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which owns six ships, and is scheduled to bring an estimated 270,000 passengers to Ketchikan this summer.

The project is part of a larger plan to revamp the site of the former Ketchikan Pulp Mill into a welcoming center, museum and shopping attraction, officials said.

Months of construction is needed before a project-completion date can be estimated because it is a “very technically difficult” project, said John Binkley, a partner in the Ward Cove Dock Group.

The permit includes several conditions, including a baseline assessment of the health of the ocean floor through soils samples, before pile driving begins, company officials said. Workers started collecting samples Wednesday from more than two dozen locations, officials said.

Construction is expected to begin at the end of next week after the main barge on the project arrives from Skagway, officials said.

Phase one of the project, including the completion of the dock and opening of the welcoming center, is expected to cost about $50 million, officials said.

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