Six days after disappearing beneath the water the ferry dock in Skagway is floating again.
But the terminal remains closed while officials try and confirm exactly what went wrong.
Alaska Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow said a contractor was able to get a look at the dock during low tide and pump water out of the 24 compartments that are meant to hold air and hold the dock up.
“They got something like 30 different pumps and just started pumping out the water,” Woodrow said. “They pumped over a million gallons of water out of the dock to be able to get it to float again when the tide came back in.”
The mystery as to how the dock sunk in the first place is still being investigated.
On April 24, the people in Skagway woke up to find the dock submerged.
The discovery left officials bamboozled.
“There’s a few theories going around, but we haven’t confirmed any of those so we aren’t coming on record saying that this is why it may have sunk,” Woodrow said.
Multiple people are working to get things fixed, he said. That includes divers to look at everything from underwater.
Just getting the dock to stay afloat is not the end of the problems.
Anything with wires was fried when the system got wet.
Repairs to the passenger ramp, electrical system and the vehicle ramp hydraulic system are all underway.
It’s not clear when the dock will be fully repaired and operational. As of right now ferry service to Skagway is cancelled until at least May 9.
“I spoke with the marine highway system folks and they said they’re still waiting for a detailed repair plan before they move that target date,” Woodrow said.
“Whether it’s moved up or moved back, they feel May 9 is a comfortable date right now. We’re still waiting to hear from the contractor and the subcontractor on how long it will take to get the repairs done and the dock operational again.”
Staff is contacting affected passengers. Ferry schedule information can be found by calling the toll-free number at 1-800-642-0066.
In 2013 about 23,000 people and 6,700 vehicles got on the ferry in Skagway to go south.
About 24,000 people and 7,600 vehicles got off the ferry in Skagway that same year.
April and early May tend to have relatively low traffic, before things really start to build in June and July, Woodrow said.
In May 2013 about 1,900 passengers got on the ferry in Skagway. About 2,100 people disembarked in the municipality.
The department doesn’t keep track of where those people are from.
“For the people getting off, probably the biggest majority of those are staying in Skagway or going through to Whitehorse and the Yukon,” Woodrow said.
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