Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Tyonek sees enormous possibilities in Ferry

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Friday, October 03, 2008

Today, Matanuska-Susitna Borough Manager John Duffy and Tyonek Native Corporation President Donita Slawson and CEO Tom Harris signed a memorandum of understanding for all weather ferry service to Ladd Landing located between the Beluga Community and the Native Village of Tyonek.


The three executives were delivering presentations at the Leading Change conference in Anchorage on October 3, 2008 when they signed the agreement.

Both the Tyonek Native Corporation and the Native Village of Tyonek have signed up for the M/V Susitna Ferry to provide freight, vehicle transport, and passenger service between the Village of Tyonek and other communities in the Upper and Western Cook Inlet, including the city of Anchorage.

"This project has enormous possibilities for economic development in the West Cook Inlet area," said CEO Tom Harris.  

Tyonek is on the northwest shore of Cook Inlet. The village is the only community in the Kenai Peninsula Borough that is not located on the peninsula, but is instead west of Anchorage across the waters of Cook Inlet, accessible by boat and plane. Members of the Tyonek community are hoping that travel to Anchorage on the Susitna ferry is more affordable than flying. The community has expressed preferences for daily ferry service, for a ferry terminal at Ladd Landing, and a stop in Kenai.

In the not too distant future there are a dozen or more West Cook Inlet communities that currently do not have road access that will benefit from this service as will existing businesses such as Chugach Electric, thereby helping to stabilize operating costs.  Similar energy projects planned for the area that will help stabilize energy costs for South Central Alaska will also benefit.

"This is exactly what we have anticipated," said Borough Manager John Duffy, "communities signing up for regular ridership on the M/V Susitna. By next summer the construction of the new Goose Creek Correctional Center will increase the demand for ridership even more as hundreds of construction jobs begin at Point MacKenzie," Duffy said.

The M/V Susitna is the world's first ice-breaking catamaran. On every trip 114 passengers and 20 vehicles can be transported. The ferry is being built by Alaska Ship & Drydock in Ketchikan as a prototype for the U.S. Navy. The innovative vessel could become the next generation of ship for the U.S. Navy. Taxpayers will receive a double value out of the project, since prototypes previously have always ended up on scrapheaps. This ship, however, is leading a second life as a commercial ferry, soon to be transporting thousands of passengers to jobs and recreation. The Susitna Ferry will be launched in 2009 and delivered in 2010.

For more information, call Manager John Duffy at 907.745-9689