By Meredith Jordan
Juneau Empire 

Alaska ferry system confronts costly reality of aging fleet


August 23, 2023

Age is a major issue behind the Alaska Marine Highway System’s pending master plan, which will go to state legislators this month.

The state ferry Columbia, which turns 50 next year, had been sidelined at the Ketchikan ferry dock for about three years until February. Management’s decision to park the vessel was based on the large expense of operating the ship, the costliest of any ferry in the fleet.

Things changed when it was discovered that the 60-year-old Matanuska, which had suffered a series of maintenance setbacks, had more serious issues that included hull corrosion. The Matanusk...

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