In an event anticipated for well over a decade, Homer will officially dedicate its new high-capacity city dock, called the Pioneer Dock, in a two-hour ceremony today.
The dedication will be held outside the Homer Ferry Terminal beginning at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, as well as Gov. Tony Knowles will be in Homer for the dedication. Also expected to be on hand are Sen. John Torgerson, Rep. Drew Scalzi, former Rep. Gail Phillips, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley, borough assembly President Tim Navarre, Homer City Manager Ron Drathman and Homer Mayor Jack Cushing.
The $12 million dock will greatly increase the city's ability to handle large vessels, including cruise ships up to 850 feet in length. It will be home to the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hickory, expected to replace the buoy tender Sedge next year. The Alaska ferries Kennicott and Tustumena will make regular visits.
"I envision Homer continuing to become an economic and transportation hub for the western and southern peninsula," Drathman said. "The dock is a step closer to realizing that."
The dock was built with major funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, city officials said.
The U-shaped roll-on, roll-off facility extends into deeper water and completely encircles a portion of the old wooden dock, known as the Homer Main Dock, which was left intact. Discussions are under way regarding how to use the remaining portions of the old dock. The main dock was built in 1965. It replaced an even earlier dock first erected in 1938.
The Pioneer Dock sits atop 184 steel piles, 30 inches in diameter. The piles along the face of the are 150-feet long and can support 200 tons each, according to information provided by the city.
The dock deck area is more than an acre. More than 5,000 cubic yards of concrete were needed to build the structure. Steel-pile structures called dolphins outboard of the dock will aid in tying up vessels far larger than the dock itself, giving the facility the capacity to handle an 850-foot cruise vessel.
According to information from the city, the project began in earnest in 1998 when the city hired the Anchorage-based engineering firm Tryck Nyman Hayes Inc. to complete the dock design. The necessary permits were obtained by 1999 as work continued toward securing the necessary funding. The project was bid in early 2001.
Hurlen Construction Co. of Seattle won the contract and hired several Alaska subcontractors. Although finish work continues, the dock has been getting some use since February, including Alaska ferries. All work is expected to be completed in August, according to Bill Abbott, Homer port and harbor director.
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