Photo courtesy of Turnagain

The newly rebuilt Cordova Small Boat Harbor is back welcoming boats, as the nearly $40 million project wraps up. The renovation included a comprehensive replacement of the existing harbor, which is now one of Alaska’s largest single-basin harbors, and a capacity expansion to accommodate 727 vessels. 

The rebuilt small boat harbor now has 96,000 square feet of new float surface for vessel docking and storage. Crews also installed new gangways, floats, trestles and pilings.  

Turnagain, a marine design and construction company, worked on the project. The company has worked on waterfront projects across coastal communities from Ketchikan to Seward to Cold Bay, and beyond. 

“This project has been several years in the making with a huge commitment by the city and support of the community,” said Cordova City Manager Sam Greenwood in the press release about the project. “We are immensely proud of the work by the hundreds of people, businesses, and organizations involved in funding, designing, permitting, and constructing this harbor. This harbor is our city’s economic engine, and we are very grateful to have such an incredible asset for decades to come.” 

The new harbor’s boat slips range from 24 to 70 feet. Turnagain also installed new utility infrastructures including electricity, cable, and potable water. 

Funding for the new harbor primarily came from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), contributions from the City of Cordova capital improvement project funds, the state and federal government, and from a $5 million voter-approved bond. The operating costs going forward will be covered by user fees and taxes. 

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“This two-year project is a celebration of MARAD, the community of Cordova and our Turnagain team working together,” said Chris Nielsen, project manager at Turnagain. “While the new harbor addresses critical safety concerns and meets the needs of residents and fishermen, the new design is modern …. while anticipating economic development opportunities around shipping, marine, tourism, and event needs of the city.” 

Nielsen emphasized, “critical infrastructure projects around Alaska would not be possible without the collaboration and funding from MARAD.” 

Christopher Coes, acting under secretary of transportation for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, credited federal funding made possible by President Joe Biden, as well as local and state partners with turning “long-held infrastructure dreams into realities.”  

“The people of Cordova – and Alaskans throughout the region – will benefit from the economic and environmental impacts of this historic investment for generations to come,” Coes said.  

From the last year complete data was available, 2022, around 65.3 million pounds of seafood, valued at $76.4 million, was delivered to Cordova. Cordova is ranked as one of the top 20 fishing ports in the country.  

Correction: This article was updated July 10 to reflect the following: There is no airplane float, the tidal grids and launch ramps are not new, Turnagain did not install phones, and the commercial fuel dock is not part of the new harbor. 

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