Members of the USAF ANG 176th Civil Engineers Squadron Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson participate in preparing the site at Shepherd Point. Photo courtesy of NVE

The Native Village of Eyak (NVE) has awarded two Alaska-based construction companies a joint contract for construction and general contractor services on the Shepard Point Marine Tribal Transportation/Oil Spill/Maine Casualty Response Facility. The facility, commonly referred to as the Shepherd Point project, broke ground in July 2023.  

According to a recent press release from the Tribe, the completion of the Shepherd Point terminal ensures that NVE traditional homelands are honored and legally fulfills a “commitment to provide better oil spill and marine casualty protection in the PWS.”  

Turnagain Marine Construction and GMC Contracting Inc. will carry out the contract in a joint venture partnership. 

A 1992 Federal Court consent decree mandated that three oil spill response facilities were to be constructed within the Prince William Sound Region. The decree was created in direct response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, which brought both economic and environmental devastation to the region after 11 million gallons of oil was spilled into the Sound.  

In 2009, NVE entered into a Tribal Transportation Program Agreement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The agreement grants the Tribe the powers of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to design and build federal transportation projects within their sovereign territory. Now, 30 years later, NVE is entrusting the construction of the response facility and infrastructure to two Alaska companies.   

Turnagain Marine Construction is an Anchorage-based construction firm focused on marine and coastal infrastructure. The company has experience in supporting marine terminal and coastal facility projects in remote areas of Alaska, including Unalaska and Dutch Harbor.  


Jason Davis, president of Turnagain Marine, says that this fall the company will focus on preparations so that when spring arrives the crews will be ready to hit the ground running and be as economical as possible with the given time and budget.  

“We’ll be strategic about how we approach the start,” he said.  

Preparation work was also completed this summer by members of the Alaska Air National Guard who cleared trees in the area as a part of the Innovative Readiness Training Program, which contributes military personnel and equipment to the project at no cost to the Tribe.  

So far, $85 million in federal funds has been awarded to the project through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Project (NSFLTP) Grants totaling nearly $86 million.  

Additionally, the Tribe received over $35 million through a FHWA Tribal Bridge Program Grant to build the bridges needed to access the site via road. These figures place Shepherd Point as one of the largest Alaska tribal construction projects of its kind, requiring significant labor and equipment.  

According to Davis, the construction crews are planning to be staged at Humpback Creek, a functional halfway point between Shepherd Point and Orca Lodge.  

“We will be shuttling to the site via landing craft from there (Humpback Creek),” he said. “That way we can help minimize impact on Orca Lodge.”  

Davis says that construction at Shepherd Point will occur seasonally over the next few years from spring into fall. Construction is currently scheduled to be completed by 2027. 

Turnagain Marine specializes in larger projects. The design and engineering team has won multiple awards for their 2020 work in Hoonah constructing a point berth at Icy Strait, as well as a large cruise ship berthing facility.  

The company has taken on several projects in Prince William Sound this year including constructing a new cruise ship terminal at the head of Passage Canal in Whittier as well as heading Cordova’s harbor renovation project. Davis says that the company brings a valuable perspective to the future facility’s design through experience working with diverse coastal stakeholder groups throughout the state.  

“The market in Alaska is heavily weighted towards cruise ships, but we’ve done it all,” he said. “Whether it’s tourism or commercial fishermen we try to find the best value solution for everyone. It’s our objective to provide the most adaptable and useful facility possible.”  

GMC Contracting Inc. is also based in Anchorage and has completed a variety of shore-based construction projects related to transportation infrastructure and civil site development. According to Davis, the two companies have worked together before and both bring benefits to the Shepherd Point Project.  

“It’s a rugged country and that will be a challenge,” he said of the steep slope and conditions along the coastline. “We’re always concerned about the safety of the workmen. That’s why we teamed up with GMC, as they have experience in this type of area. We have the right team put together to mitigate the risks.” 

GMC’s equipment is specifically tooled up for deep utility installation and is capable of constructing large earth moving projects. Together the two companies will form a joint venture in order to complete the four separate parts of the project: installation of four modular prefabricated steel truss bridges, a response facility pad and staging area, a deepwater dock, and the access road connecting Cordova to the facility. 

Construction crews will be staying in Cordova during the process of building over the next several years. Both Turnagain Marine and GMC Construction plan to open up opportunities for local employment. A jobs tab will be added to the existing Shepherd Point website for people interested in employment with the project.