Koplin: residents must fully book remaining ferry space

Sept. 19 extension was made possible by taking service away from northern panhandle

A vehicle loads onto the M/V Aurora at the Cordova Ferry Terminal. (July 21, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
A vehicle is loaded onto the M/V Aurora at the Cordova Ferry Terminal. (July 21, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Further extension to Cordova’s ferry service may be possible if residents continue to campaign for it, says Mayor Clay Koplin. Originally planned to terminate Thursday, Sept. 12, service was extended to Sept. 19 in a new schedule released by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Cordova residents must advocate for the ferry service by using it, Koplin said. If the ferry sails fully booked throughout its final scheduled week, that will send the message that residents need the service and make good use of it, he said.

“We need to fill that boat up,” Koplin said. “This mobilization can’t stop. We have to continue. The important thing right now is to book a trip during these available openings that we have right in front of us, and also to continue asking for adequate service for the remainder of the winter.”

This week-long extension shows that residents’ visible engagement with the issue has had an effect, Koplin said. Events like the July 27 meeting of the Alaska House Transportation Committee drew hundreds of attendees who explained how a lengthy gap in ferry service would disrupt their lives. Communicating with the state government in a strong but non-antagonistic way could help improve Cordova’s position, Koplin said.

“This is a step in the right direction, but it’s a small step,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we can look at the rest of the year and try to have some similar wins.”

The ferry M/V Aurora was made available to service Prince William Sound from Sept. 12-19 by canceling service to the northern Alaska Panhandle. The M/V LeConte, which would normally service the region’s many roadless communities, is currently undergoing maintenance work.

This is a developing story.  Check back with thecordovatimes.com for updates.