On July 15, the Nome Port Commission held an open house at Old Saint Joe’s to give community members a chance to ask questions about port projects.

The main talking point of the evening was the Arctic Deep Draft Port Project. The only question is timing, Port Director Joy Baker said.

“In my opinion, it’s no longer a ‘maybe.’ This is coming,” said Baker.

The project is in the design phase, which is scheduled to be completed by November 2022. The Corps will release its construction solicitation package in early 2023, and award a construction contact in fall 2023.

The total cost of the port project is estimated at $611 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for $505 million for general navigation features, or GNF, like breakwaters and dredging. The City of Nome shares 35% of the GNF cost with the corps. However, Nome covers 100% of external costs including the docks, roads and utilities.

The corps estimated the highest possible cost, Baker said. She explained that the numbers will be tightened up through the design phase and believes that the cost will be much lower for Nome.

“I don’t believe it’s going to be a $611 million project. I believe they are going to find cost savings on a lot of the stone that they recover from moving the east breakwater. I think their estimates are almost always high,” said Baker.

Baker also shared that the corps is aware that housing is an issue in Nome. If the housing situation does not significantly improve, contractors will be expected to provide temporary housing for their own crew rather than rely on Nome’s already-limited housing.

A planning charrette with the corps is scheduled for late August in Nome.

Baker reminded community members that Port Commission meetings are open to the public and provide room for citizens to comment or ask any questions about the project.

“We would love to hear your input anytime. Come to any meeting. You can come talk about whatever you want. You can get up during our citizen’s comments and talk about any port-related aspect you want or just ask questions about the project. But please come see us,” Baker said.

The Port Commission meets the third Thursday of every month. Its next meeting will be held on August 19.

Editor’s note: Details in this story have been updated to clarify project timeline.

Image at top: PND’s updated model rendering for the design of a potential Arctic Deep Draft Port in Nome. Photo from Port of Nome, used with permission (2020).