By Hannah Heimbuch
A gangway that spent the first part of the month partially submerged in the Homer harbor was pulled up this week, and is now resting largely unharmed on the chip pad.
But for now, that’s as far as it’s going.
Ramp 7 is on the north side of the harbor, and was built a few years ago by the Seldovia Village Tribe to serve as both the Seldovia Bay Ferry loading ramp and a public access ramp to the Homer Harbor.
The gangway and ramp are accessed from the large parking area leased by Seldovia Village Tribe to serve ferry passengers.
The ramp fell into the harbor on the last day of January, when a weight shift at low tide caused the ramp to separate from the dock.
“The ramp, by my eye, doesn’t look damaged,” said Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins. “The gangway landing or ramp landing where it was connected to the float system, that was the point of failure, the connection point,” Hawkins said.
The Seldovia Ferry does not run this time of year, and leaders on both sides of the bay are working on how to remedy the fallen equipment by the time the ferry begins its summer operating schedule.
At last week’s city council meeting the question inevitably came up of who would fund the retrieval and perhaps the repair of the damaged infrastructure, as the ramp’s use is shared.
“At this point, removal will be paid for by the Seldovia Village Tribe,” Hawkins said at that city council meeting.
Insurance adjustors are currently evaluating the cost of removal, repair and reinstallation of the gangway, Hawkins said following the removal, though the ramp’s future is still up in the air.
“At this point I suppose the question is still out there as far as whether they will put it back in,” Hawkins said.
While Homer Port and Harbor will be evaluating their part in the repair — the dockside portion that failed — the remainder is up to SVT, which holds a 20-year lease for ramp 7.
“It was detailed pretty clearly in their lease for the city,” Hawkins said. “The normal maintenance is the responsibility of the city, and an event like this the responsibility of the owner.”
The ramp, funded by SVT, will become city property once the lease is up. Until then, it is fully shared by the public and Seldovia Bay Ferry passengers and crew.
North Star Terminal and Stevedore assisted in hoisting the ramp from the water last week.
“They used their crane and crew to lift it clear of the harbor and set it on the bank,” Hawkins said. “We started late one evening, trying to work around the tide.”
The cold temperatures and tide fluctuation posed some extra challenges, Hawkins said, but overall the operation went very well and without major incident.
The equipment failure itself was fairly low impact as well, he said, the extreme minus 5.2 tide being the main cause of the break.
“Nobody was injured and the only damage seems to be to our float system,” Hawkins said. “Which is something that can be repaired.”
While the ferry isn’t in use now, if the ramp is not put back into place by the time they resume their regular seasonal schedule, the docking area can be reached by ramp 6.
The city and SVT will continue to work together until they decide what the next step will be, Hawkins said.
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