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Rebuilt Cordova Small Boat Harbor Opening for Summer

A new bulkhead encircles the updated Cordova Small Boat Harbor.

Posted on July 10, 2024

The Cordova Small Boat Harbor is opening for business upon completion of a two-year, $40 million renovation and upgrade. Turnagain (formerly Turnagain Marine Construction) executed the design-build contract to replace the old harbor, significantly expanding its capacity to accommodate 727 vessels and making it one of Alaska’s largest single-basin harbors.

Collaboration Builds Success

The rebuilt South Harbor boasts 96,000 square feet of new float surface for vessel docking and storage, along with an airplane float. New gangways and floats have been installed alongside new trestles and pilings, facilitating the increase in vessel slips from 452 to 727. A new bulkhead has been erected around the perimeter, expanding the harbor parking lot to accommodate between eighty and ninety additional shoreside parking spots.

“This project has been several years in the making, with a huge commitment by the city and support of the community,” says Cordova City Manager Sam Greenwood. “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.”

Funding for the new dock primarily came from the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), supplemented by contributions from the City of Cordova capital improvement project funds and a $5 million voter-approved bond. User fees and taxes will cover the operating costs.

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

The Small Boat Harbor was expanded from 425 to 727 slips and includes 96,000 square feet of new float surface for vessel docking and storage, along with an airplane float.

Boat slips in the new harbor range in size from 24 feet to 70 feet long, offering amenities such as two tidal grids—one 160-foot light-duty grid and one 180-foot heavy-duty grid—and two launch ramps. Additionally, bilge water collection and sewage holding tank pump-outs are available. Newly installed utility infrastructures include electricity, phones, cable, telephone, and potable water, as well as fuel from Shoreside Petroleum at its commercial fueling dock.

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

Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Christopher Coes commended the completion of the project, noting that funding came from the federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program.

“The completion of the Cordova South Harbor project is a testament to the Biden-Harris Administration’s vision for the RAISE discretionary grant program: local, state, and federal partners working together to turn 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 says.


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