Details released on ferries for southeast Alaska


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JUNEAU (AP) — A new report estimates it will cost about $112 million to build two ferries to serve southeast Alaska.

The estimates, released by the state Department of Transportation, fall within the total budget of $117 million for the project. But it's about $5 million higher than a cost estimate released earlier this year, department spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said.

The department had estimated the ferries would include a cost savings of 10 percent, while the revised estimate is closer to 4 percent, the Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/1aM76Qw ) reported Monday.

Gov. Sean Parnell last year announced plans to scale back the Alaska Class Ferry project, amid concerns about the cost. He ordered an end to work on a 350-foot vessel and called for the design of smaller, less expensive ferries.

The new ferries would be 280 feet long and carry up to 53 vehicles and 300 passengers, according to the design report.

One would travel from Skagway to Haines and the other from Juneau to Haines.

Woodrow said the intent would be to have the two ferries arriving in Haines around the same time so travelers can make an easy connection. Splitting up the route also saves time and money, he said.

"Having two vessels on a 12-hour day costs less than one vessel on a 24-hour day," Woodrow said.

The goal is to begin construction next year, he said, noting it could take two years to complete.

"They can be constructed side by side or one right after the other," Woodrow said. "There are different ways you can look at that for cost savings."

Public hearings are planned next month in Juneau, Skagway and Haines.

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Online:

Alaska Class Ferry project: http://dot.state.ak.us/amhs/alaska_class/

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