News & Reviews News Wire Alaska Railroad seeks funding for new Seward passenger dock

Alaska Railroad seeks funding for new Seward passenger dock

By Trains Staff | April 17, 2024

$137 million facility could be ready in 2026

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Illustration of cruise ship dock with train on adjacent track
A rendering of the new Alaska Railroad passenger dock and terminal in Seward, Alaska. The Seward Co.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Railroad is seeking to replace its passenger dock and terminal building in Seward, Alaska, with a $137 million project proposed by local developer the Seward Co. If funding is approved, the new facility could be opened by spring 2026.

“This dock is a vital piece of Alaska’s transportation infrastructure, not just for the community of Seward, but for Alaska’s visitor industry across Southeast, South central, and the Interior,” Alaska Railroad Corp. CEO Bill O’Leary said in a press release. “As maintenance becomes more challenging, it’s imperative we replace the old dock. This new, state-of-the-art infrastructure will serve Alaskans for the next 50 years.”

The current facility, Seward’s only cruise port, saw 87 ships call in 2023, representing some 188,000 visitors. The Seward Co. worked with cruise company Royal Caribbean Group to dvelop plans for the new 748-foot floating double-pier berth, and can accommodate all classes of cruise ships as well as potential winter cargo shipments in coordination with the railroad’s adjacent freight dock. It will also include a new 60,000-foot terminal building with an open floor plan that can see the workstations and dividing walls moved in the winter to create the region’s largest flex space.

The railroad plans to purchase the dock from The Seward Co. primarily through bonds, which must be authorized by the state legislature, although the debt will be an obligation of the railroad, not the state. The project timeline requires bond authorization during this legislative session. HB122, to authorize funding for the port, is currently in the hands of the House Finance Committee.

That bill made news earlier this month when the chair of the Transportation Committee, Rep. Kevin McCabe, introduced an amendment that would also include funding for a long-stalled railroad spur to Port MacKeznie, a deepwater port near Anchorage, as well as providing money for mining infrastructure [see “Alaska legislator seeks to let Alaska Railroad issue bonds …,” Trains News Wire, April 2, 2024]. Rep. Frank Tomaszewski, who introduced the original legislation to fund the dock project, said in a statement that the bill is an “effort to address critical infrastructure needs while maintaining fiscal responsibility.”

Illustration of building with cruise ship in background
The planned terminal building at the Seward dock. The Seward Co.
You must login to submit a comment