Alaska cancels bids for BC ferry terminal project

Canada threatened to block project over use of American steel in Buy America dispute.

January 22, 2015   by ASSOCIATED PRESS

Canada takes this round in the Alaska Buy America dispute. Photo: Jared Grove

Canada takes this round in the Alaska Buy America dispute.
Photo: Jared Grove

JUNEAU, Alaska — The state of Alaska cancelled bids for a ferry terminal update Jan. 21 that the Canadian government threatened to block because of a dispute over the use of American steel.

The Canadian government has issued an order Jan. 19 that would have blocked the state from doing the project on land it leases at Prince Rupert, BC, unless a resolution was reached.

The dispute centred on “Buy America” requirements for steel, iron and manufactured products used in projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Much of the construction funding for the project was to come from the federal agency, with the rest coming from the state. The cost of the ferry terminal replacement project was estimated at between $10 million and $20 million.


Alaska brushes off Canada’s Buy American warning
Canada threatens to block US ferry project over steel requirements

Canadian officials called the requirement to only use US steel on Canadian soil unacceptable. They suggested that the state seek a waiver from the federal government of the “Buy America” provision, but Gov. Bill Walker said he had not seen a need for one.

Another option would have been for the state to fund the project itself, but Alaska faces multibillion-dollar budget deficits because of the fall in oil prices.

It was not immediately clear what the action will mean for the project in the long run. The Prince Rupert terminal is part of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Patricia Eckert, the associate director for international trade within the governor’s office, said by e-mail the state transportation department can maintain normal operations at the port “over the next several years until this is sorted out.”

The ferry system signed a 50-year lease with Prince Rupert in 2013, she said.

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