Petersburg Harbor (AK) dredged for the first time in 42 years

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District has completed the first project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – the Petersburg Navigation Improvements project.

Photo courtesy of USACE

Located in Southeast Alaska between Juneau and Ketchikan, the Petersburg dredging project restored the the Borough’s South Harbor to original design depths ranging from minus 9 to 19 feet and improved general navigation features to allow for safe passage of vessels.

The first ever dredging operation within the basin since it was built in 1982 removed about 57,000 cubic yards of material.

These improvements reflect our renewed commitment to serving as a community partner and our dedication to addressing Petersburg’s harbor maintenance needs,” said Col. Jeffrey Palazzini, district commander.

Western Marine completed the necessary activities within the harbor areas during the past two winter seasons after being awarded a construction contract in May 2022.

The project cost about $7.3 million with the federal government providing 90 percent of the funds. The Petersburg Borough served as the non-federal sponsor and provided the remaining cost share.

The borough is located on the northwest end of Mitkof Island, where the Wrangell Narrows meets Frederick Sound, and it is not connected to the state’s road system. Therefore, the ports and harbors serve as vital infrastructure for the area’s economy.

Dredging the harbors for the first time in 42 years to help the community is precisely the kind of project the infrastructure law was designed to address.

Petersburg is a waterfront community and good working conditions within our harbors are essential elements to that end,” said Glorianne Wollen, harbormaster for the Petersburg Borough’s Port and Harbor Department. “I often say this unique project was an out-of-body experience given the timeframe and patience it took to navigate the moving parts.”

Moving forward, USACE will continue to monitor the need for dredging in the catch basin of Petersburg’s Middle Harbor. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for May 2024.