Port of Port Angeles mulls ferry pier rehab

Grant application for federal funding likely

PORT ANGELES — Port of Port Angeles commissioners have introduced a resolution to commit $1.86 million in matching funds to the rehabilitation of a pier used by Black Ball Ferry Line and its idled MV Coho ferry.

Port commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to introduce the item but stopped short of approving the match to the $4.14 million federal grant.

Commissioner Colleen McAleer requested more information from staff about the matching funds and the port’s existing lease with the company that operates the 1,000-passenger ferry from downtown Port Angeles to Victoria.

“I’m very supportive of Black Ball. Very supportive,” McAleer said during the meeting.

She added: “I’d like to know what we’re agreeing to here, if we have time.”

Port commissioners will consider approving the grant application at their July 27 meeting.

The application to the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program is due July 30, port Environmental Manager Jesse Waknitz said.

“We’ll just leave it at introduced,” port commission Chairman Steve Burke said of the resolution.

“We’re only committing to apply, not to receive. There will be another resolution that will come down to actually receive grant funds. That’s when we get committed.”

The $4.14 million federal grant would be used for the design and construction of long-planned Terminal 2 East Pier rehabilitation, Waknitz said.

Over the past decade, Black Ball has been reconstructing sections of the Terminal 2 Pier at the foot of Laurel Street where the MV Coho docks and loads.

The port leases the terminal at a monthly rate of $7,000, Port Deputy Executive Director John Nutter said.

“In 2013, they replaced the West Pier at a cost of about $4 million, and they had plans to replace the East Pier,” Waknitz said.

“To assist in the replacement of the East Pier, the port is currently in the process of applying for grant funding,” Waknitz added.

“Required as part of the grant application is a funding commitment from the port.”

The federal grants will be announced later this year.

If approved, the Terminal 2 East Pier project would be designed in 2023 and constructed in 2024, Waknitz said.

Black Ball officials have said they hope to resume ferry service by the end of this year. The timing will depend on when Canada reopens its border with the U.S.

“This (shutdown) has been a financial blow to Black Ball and has impacted our local economy,” Waknitz said.

McAleer has advocated for state and federal financial assistance for Black Ball in her role as executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council.

“If Black Ball gets into a better position financially when things get back to normal, will we have any method to try to recoup this (match)?” McAleer asked port staff.

“We’ll have to go back and look,” Nutter said.

“That’s to be determined.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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