JUNEAU (AP) -- Proposed fast ferries for Southeast Alaska won't start running until January 2004, about six months later than originally proposed, because the state had to issue a new request for proposals.
The Alaska Department of Transportation on Thursday issued the new request for proposals to build two high-speed catamarans, one to serve a Sitka-to-Juneau route and the other for Cordova.
In April, the state rejected the only complete bid it received for the Sitka-based vessel. The nearly $36 million bid by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Washington state was declared ''non-responsive'' for reasons that were never disclosed.
The department revised its request for proposals after consulting with the original five bidders, said Bob Doll, Southeast region director for the agency.
The changes won't affect plans for the 32-knot ships to carry 250 passengers and the equivalent of 35 sports utility vehicles, Doll said. But bidders will have more opportunity to refine their design-build proposals as they go through the process, he said.
The new bid request calls for an option to build two additional fast ferries. One of the optional ferries would be based in Ketchikan, making runs to a new terminal south of Petersburg on South Mitkof Island. The other would be based in Juneau, making runs to Petersburg.
The contract could be awarded in late December.
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