Story last updated at 3:06 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2002

Pioneer Dock ready for Tuesday dedication
By Hal Spence
Morris News Service-Alaska

In an event anticipated for more than a decade, Homer will officially dedicate its new high-capacity city dock, called the Pioneer Dock, in a two-hour ceremony Tuesday.

The ceremony will be held outside the Homer Ferry Terminal beginning at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, as well as Gov. Tony Knowles will be in Homer for the dedication. Also expected to be on hand are Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, Rep. Drew Scalzi, R-Homer, former Rep. Gail Phillips, R-Homer, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley and Borough Assembly President Tim Navarre, Homer Mayor Jack Cushing and City Manager Ron Drathman, and other elected city officials and staff.

The $12 million dock will greatly increase the city's ability to handle large vessels, including cruise ships up to 850 feet in length. It will be home to the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hickory expected to replace the buoy tender Sedge next year. The Alaska ferries Kennicott and Tustumena will make

regular visits.

"I envision Homer continuing to become an economic and transportation hub for the western and southern Peninsula," Drathman said. "The dock is a step closer to realizing that."

The dock was built with major funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Transportation, city officials said.

The U-shaped roll-on-roll-off facility extends into deeper water and completely encircles a portion of the old wooden dock, known as the Homer Main Dock, which was left intact. Discussions are under way regarding the use of the remaining portions of the old dock.

The Main Dock was built in 1965. It replaced an even earlier dock first erected in 1938.

The Pioneer Dock sits atop 184 steel piles 30 inches in diameter. The piles along the face are 150 feet long and can support 200 tons each, according to information provided by the city.

The dock deck area covers more than an acre, and more than 5,000 cubic yards of concrete were needed to build the structure.

Steel-pile structures called dolphins outboard of the dock will aid in tying up vessels far larger than the dock itself, giving the facility the capacity to handle an 850-foot cruise vessel.

According to information from the city, the project began in earnest in 1998 when the city hired Anchorage-based engineering firm Tryck Nyman Hayes Inc. to complete the dock design. The necessary permits were obtained by

1999 as work continued toward securing the necessary funding. The project was bid in early 2001.

<> Hal Spence is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.