13 August 2013

The Ferry Susitna, All Dressed Up & No Place to Go

For the Mat-Su's mothballed ice-breaking ferry, it's decision time.

The borough got the $80 million M/V Susitna -- federally funded as a U.S. Navy prototype -- for free with a pledge to use it for regular ferry runs between Anchorage and Port MacKenzie. Work on an Anchorage landing fizzled even after the Mat-Su built a $4.5 million terminal on the Port Mac side.

This undated photo provided by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough shows the 200-foot ferry Susitna, in Alaska.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/08/12/3020904/mat-su-borough-determined-to-do.html#storylink=cpy
The 195-foot, catamaran-style vessel capable of transporting 129 people and 20 cars has yet to get a dip in the waters of Cook Inlet.

Instead, every month since April 2012, the borough has spent $69,550 on insurance, taxes, security, docking and "boat exercise" to keep the ferry in good running order at Ward Cove near the Ketchikan shipyard where it was built.

This long, sad story involves local politicians, political wrangling, and bureaucracies for which too much red tape is never enough.

So the Mat-Su Borough (20,000 square miles, just north of Anchorage) got the ferry for free, plus a federal grant of $6 million to put it in operation, but the powers that be can't agree on where to build the pier on the Anchorage side, so it could dock. Did I mention politics are involved?

If all this leaves a bad taste in your mouth, imagine how we feel as this sweetheart deal evaporates without the ferry ever making it here.

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