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Broken Alaska ferry ramp at Bellingham Cruise Terminal ready for repairs

The MV Kennicott dwarfs a pair of kayakers as it is moored at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven on Aug. 31, 2013 in Bellingham.
The MV Kennicott dwarfs a pair of kayakers as it is moored at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven on Aug. 31, 2013 in Bellingham. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Nearly two years after a metal cable snapped, dropping a ramp used by Alaska ferry foot passengers and injuring a ferry worker, a legal settlement has cleared the way for repairs.

The Port of Bellingham Commission voted 2-0 Tuesday, Sept. 2, with Commissioner Jim Jorgensen absent, to let Port Executive Director Rob Fix settle with the state of Alaska and the port’s insurance company, Lexington Insurance, for the cost of repairing the metal structure.

The Bellingham Cruise Terminal walk-on passenger ramp has been unusable since Nov. 12, 2012, when, for unknown reasons, a cable that pulls the platform up and down snapped, and the ramp fell more than a dozen feet. Since then, walk-on passengers have been escorted across the car ramp.

An Alaska Marine Highway System ferry ramp operator who was at the hydraulic controls near the end of the ramp fell and was injured. No one else was on the ramp at the time.

The port and the Alaskan ferry system have not settled a personal injury case with that worker yet.

What has been settled is the matter of who will pay for up to $300,000 in repairs to damaged metal beams, cables, hydraulic hoses and other pieces of the ramp system.

Alaska and Lexington will split the bill, which includes the costs of engineering, construction and inspection work before the ramp can again be cleared for use, said Norman Gilbert, a port project engineer.

It should take Neptune Marine Services of Anacortes about two months to make the repairs, Gilbert said.

“It’s not a huge repair, but it’s important,” Gilbert said.

The Port will get its $25,000 deductible and up to $5,000 in attorney fees back as part of the settlement.

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