ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The largest economic development project under way in Anchorage has stalled under a cloud of construction troubles and ballooning costs.
The completion date for the massive dock replacement project at the Port of Anchorage has been pushed back to 2021 from a target of 2011 set before major construction began.
The price tag, which was $360 million as of 2005, has escalated to $1 billion.
Some engineers are questioning whether the new dock can even be built as designed. Much of the work done in 2010 involved dismantling construction from just a year earlier. Numerous sheets of steel that were planted in Cook Inlet as part of the dock expansion have been ripped up and now lie stacked in twisted and warped piles at the port.
A city advisory commission is urging an independent review of "all aspects of the design, including the ... constructability."
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, who was Anchorage mayor when the dock project got going, has been a big supporter over the years. Now he has concerns, too.
"I am troubled by reports I have received of complications during this year's construction season and of the potential financial ramifications for federal taxpayers and for other entities which have contributed funding for the expansion project," the senator wrote in a Dec. 15 letter to the federal Maritime Administration, which is overseeing the project.
Among other things, he sought an accounting of the spending and an explanation of what went wrong with the construction.
Ken Privratsky recently retired as an executive with Horizon Lines Inc., one of the two major shippers that dock at the port, and has been following the project for years.
"What's becoming evident is we've got a real mess on our hands," he said.