Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly Chamber, Palmer, Alaska

Cheryl Coppe

Executive Administrator for Development, Port of Anchorage, Municipality of Anchorage, AK

Madame Chairperson and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to present testimony on behalf of the Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage, George Wuerch and the Director of the Port of Anchorage, Former Governor William Sheffield. I will discuss the regional and national importance of the Port of Anchorage and the need for federal funding to support the rehabilitation and expansion of the Port through its Port Intermodal Expansion Project.




The Port of Anchorage is a freight and passenger marine transportation facility of approximately 130 acres. It is Alaska’s regional port – a department of the Municipality of Anchorage, but self-supporting. The Port receives no tax support from the Municipality and, in fact, pays an annual assessment in lieu of taxes to the Municipality from its net profits.


Economic Impact


The Port is the keystone and hub of a massive multimodal transportation system that helps Alaskan businesses remain competitive with their counterparts in the Lower 48. It is estimated that the Port contributes approximately $725 million annually to the state’s economy. For this reason, the Port is considered a major economic driver, serving not only the Municipality of Anchorage. 80% of the state’s geographical area receives cargo from the Port that is transshipped by truck, train, plane and barge to final destinations throughout the state. The population of this same area receives more than 90% of its consumer goods through the Port of Anchorage. Additionally, the Port of Anchorage weighs significantly on the economic security of the Pacific Northwest. The flow of cargo to and from the Port wields potent indirect economic impacts that affect the Puget Sound area of Washington because Port of Anchorage operations drive more than one third of all the cargo operations at the Port of Tacoma.


Not large by international standards, the Port is recognized as one of the most efficiently operated container ports on the West Coast and consistently ranks in the top 25 container ports in North America for the volume of cargo moved through its facilities. Four million tons of cargo move annually across the docks and through its marine terminals.


The Port’s petroleum terminals serve the communities of South Central and Western Alaska. Jet fuel used by Elmendorf Air Force Base and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport also moves through the Port’s petroleum terminals and is transported by pipeline to those facilities.


National Security Impact


Local military planners recognize the Port of Anchorage as a “critical node” and a “strategic port” under certain Department of Defense (DOD) contingency planning scenarios. Because of its strategic value, location and proximity to neighboring military commands at Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson, the Port of Anchorage is a critical component for certain DOD strategic activities concerning mobilization planning.


For these reasons, the Port of Anchorage entered into a Federal Port Controller service agreement on April 27, 1987, which is still in effect. Additionally, the Port maintains close professional working relationships with the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), Military Sealift Command (MSC), and all local and statewide military logistics and transportation officials.


During March, 2003, the Port of Anchorage received letters from Lt. General Carrol Chandler, Commander of the Alaskan Command, and Major General John Brown of U.S. Army Alaska. These letters endorsed the Port Intermodal Expansion Project. In particular, the Road and Rail, Barge Terminal and Harbor Deepening phases of the project will support the rapid deployment of the Army’s new Stryker Brigade Combat Team and enhance the Department of Defense’s ability to more rapidly process troops and equipment for any worldwide deployment. These near-term phases of the Port’s expansion plans are especially important to the Stryker Brigade because its operational capability is scheduled for May 2005.


Port Intermodal Expansion Project


The Port is preparing for the near and long-term future needs of both the state and nation by initiating extensive rehabilitation and new construction in multiple phases over an expedited schedule from 2003 through 2008 under its Port Intermodal Expansion Project. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently became the Federal Lead Agency for this project through special legislation passed in the 2003 Consolidated Appropriations Resolution.


The Port states with pride that the Port Expansion development and administrative concepts it and MARAD will employ are unique and audacious – especially when compared to the customary U.S. Department of Transportation project delivery processes. This is the first major marine transportation infrastructure project ever sponsored and supported by MARAD and the U.S. Department of Transportation. For this reason, the Maritime Administration and the Port sought to make this arrangement an “innovative partnership” that integrates modes of transportation – water, road and rail – into a cohesive system, exemplifying the type of intermodal, public-private, commercial-military initiative that will define the U. S. Marine Transportation System in the 21st century.


The phases of this project include but are not limited to:

Road and rail access development that will provide direct loading of containers from vessels onto rail cars;


Barge terminal facility and storage areas that will accommodate military high-speed sealift capability, movement of heavy equipment and oilfield module construction;


A 1,200-foot multipurpose dock designed to handle a variety of vessels, including cruise ships. The dock also features new petroleum piers designed for deeper-draft, double-hull tankers that will call at the Port;


Rehabilitation and widening of the existing dock to meet increasing weight requirements and accommodate three new 100-foot gauge container cranes;


Reconfiguration of all cargo transit, storage yards and terminals and


Deepening of the authorized dredge depth of the Anchorage Harbor and Navigation Channel from -35 feet at low tide to -45 feet. This project phase will occur in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


The total cost for all phases of the Port Intermodal Expansion Project is estimated to be approximately $227 million. Proposed project shares are: 38% Nonfederal; 27% Appropriations Earmarks and 35% from TEA-21 Reauthorization. The Port currently has $55 million available as contribution toward the anticipated nonfederal portion of Port Expansion costs.




In conclusion, implementation of the Port Intermodal Expansion Project will provide the major transportation infrastructure necessary to move Alaska’s Regional Port -- the Port of Anchorage -- into the future, meeting commercial and military needs of the state, the region and the nation. This project can also become the benchmark for Marine Transportation System development throughout the nation. However, the ultimate success of this project relies on the support of the members of this Committee, their colleagues in both Houses of Congress and their collective commitment to provide the federal financial resources necessary to make it a reality.


Madame Chairperson and members of the Committee, this concludes my statement. I again thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the Municipality of Anchorage and the Port of Anchorage. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.