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Port of Anchorage shifts focus from expansion to modernization, improving infrastructure


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Port of Anchorage is turning its focus from expansion to modernization and efforts to improve existing infrastructure.

Lower sections of the hollow steel posts beneath the wharf are covered in corrosion caused by bacteria, silt and salty water. Steel sleeves used to cover cracks and holes have begun corroding as well.

Port Engineer Todd Cowles called this a temporary fix.

"You can spend 15 years fixing 100 piles a year only to have the ones you started with starting to fail. These are not 75-year solutions. These are 10- to 15-year solutions," he said.

So the municipality of Anchorage and the engineering company CH2M Hill are designing possible long-term solutions, with the basic idea to use steel piles filled with reinforced concrete, KSKA reported ( . If the steel corrodes in 20 years, the concrete remains.

Port managers also want to replace aging equipment and make the port better able to withstand earthquakes. And they want to redo two older terminals. They do not plan to add new berths.

Construction and demolition will change where companies off-load goods, Cowles said.

The project is a shift from the failed expansion that began in 2006 and resulted in more than $300 million in costs, unused materials and lawsuits.

"I think what we did better this time is really involve our primary stakeholders in kind of kicking the tires on the concept," he said of the new approach.

Engineers, pilots and port users met late last month. Designs will be developed thoroughly enough to estimate their cost, placement and possible risks and presented to the municipality in November.

Each year, 4 million tons of goods pass through the port, a major gateway to Alaska, along with much of the cement and jet fuel used in the state.

Information from: KSKA-FM,

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