Port MacKenzie docks first vessel of the year

Bunun Wisdom carried approximately 30,000 tons of concrete
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:46 PM AKDT
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PORT MACKENZIE, Alaska (KTUU) - It has been smooth sailing for crews unloading the Bunun Wisdom at Port MacKenzie as clear skies and calm conditions greeted the fourth day of operations.

The vessel arrived and docked Friday night on the Knik Arm carrying 30,000 tons of concrete that will be used for various projects around the state. Port Operations Manager Therese Dolan said that the ship is expected to be fully unloaded as early as Thursday.

“We’re looking at a six-day discharge, right now they’re running ahead of schedule,” Dolan said. “It’s been a very smooth operation, everything’s been like clockwork.”

The ship’s cranes work continuously to lift loads of 12 “super sacks” of the material off the vessel and onto the beds of semi-trucks, which then take them to an area on the port’s property for storage. Crews will work around the clock until the cargo has been fully unloaded.

Crews unload "super sacks" of concrete off the Bunun Wisdom.
Crews unload "super sacks" of concrete off the Bunun Wisdom.(AKNS)

This is the first vessel to dock this year at Port MacKenzie. Matanuska-Susitna Borough Manager Mike Brown said that the port typically operates at a deficit when he discussed the future of the port at the May 3 assembly meeting.

In the meeting, Brown proposed that the borough enter a public-private partnership with a company that could utilize the port and take over its operations and conduct business development while the borough maintained ownership.

“It may not stimulate a lot of revenue for the borough upfront, but it would generate economic activity that should lead to growth and jobs,” Brown said.

The borough was awarded a $6.7M grant from the United States Economic Development Administration for infrastructure repairs and improvements to the port to preserve the deep draft dock piles to extend the port’s life, and develop a roll-on, roll-off ramp capability. Currently, the borough is also looking to divest the conveyor system that was used for a wood chipping operation and is no longer operable.

Borough officials have also been in talks with the Municipality of Anchorage to enter into some kind of partnership. The municipality has not expressed interest in creating a regional port authority, but instead has proposed an Upper Cook Inlet Marine Energy Alliance, which would leverage public and private investment to develop a microgrid in the Mat-Su borough’s port district that would potentially provide economic renewable power to both ports.

Regardless of whether the municipality and the borough enter into the proposed partnership, officials continue to explore ways to stimulate economic opportunity at Port MacKenzie once the Bunun Wisdom ships out.

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