The initial phases of renovations to the northeast launch ramp of the Seward Boat Harbor are underway. Harbormaster Norm Regis reported that the project has progressed roughly 35 percent into the engineering and design phase, which is being funded entirely by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G).
Plans not only include restoration of the ramp itself, but several improvements which promise to improve marine traffic flow, including the separation of the fish cleaning station, which is often the site of bottlenecks when fishermen docking to clean their fish block the ramp for anyone wishing to launch.
“We’re moving that fish cutting station off of one of the floats because people tie up there and they go clean their fish,” Regis said. “People start yelling and screaming, so we’re going to actually move it over, and getting down to it, we’ll come off that trestle right there to the north of it… We’re going to make it so people can tie up to the fish cleaning station; they can tie up real quick, clean their fish and pull their boats out of the water.”
Additionally, the transition to one-way traffic flow in the launch and parking areas will minimize traffic jams for land vehicles.
“The way it is now, you come in and out the same way,” Regis said. “It’s going to be one way in, one way out, which will assist the boats coming in so we don’t have that backlog.”
The project will also include improvements similar to those made in the 2018 renovations to the south launch ramp, including a more gradual slope that makes launching easier and a lengthening of the ramp that allows launching at any tide. Regis also said that the new designs are proving more durable than those they’re replacing.
“With these new designs, they’re finding that the traction skid and the wood and the skids on the bottom, they’re built pretty stout,” he said.
Another benefit to the renovation comes in the way of funding. Seventy-five percent of the estimated $3.7 million project will be funded by the ADF&G and the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program.
“Every time you buy a fishing license, a fishing pole or fishing gear, there’s a tax on it,” Regis said, “and that tax goes toward money to replace launch ramps, fishing piers for people, wherever, throughout the whole United States.”
$600,000 of the remaining $925,000 will be paid by the parking department for paving and painting, leaving the harbor to cover $325,000. Regis noted, however, that the 2018 south ramp renovations were completed under budget by $240,000, a surplus that will now be applied to the northeast ramp. The remaining $85,000 will be covered by the Harbor Repair and Replacement Fund.
As the design phase progresses, Regis noted that renovations should be able to proceed without issue, pending state fund allocation.
“The money’s there,” Regis said. “It just has to be allocated by the State. The feds already gave them the money, but the State has to allocate it, and the guy from Fish and Game said that it should happen. It should be no problem, but he can’t do anything until it gets allocated.”