State says ferry repairs are on schedule, but COVID-19 concerns will delay return to service

The state ferry Tazlina. (Eric Stone/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Alaska Marine Highway System’s mainline service won’t be back up and running until mid-May. The ferries Columbia, Kennicott and Tustumena were scheduled to return to service later this month. 

Read the latest coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in Alaska

According to a Wednesday media release from the Department of Transportation, the three vessels are on schedule to be overhauled by Vigor Alaska. But the ferry crews needed to provision the ships and to complete practice drills required for safety certifications have been sent home due to COVID-19 precautions.

Travel restrictions implemented by a number of Southeast Alaska villages has also lessened demand for passenger service. But the DOT says essential grocery deliveries will continue throughout the public health crisis, albeit at a reduced level.

RELATED: Alaska lawmakers seek oversight over ferry fleet’s fate

Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director in Juneau.

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