Geologists report that the risk of a massive rockslide is threatening one of Alaska’s most-storied and busiest cruise ports. The local leaders are striving to devise a plan to ensure cruise-goers are not injured while on land.
The port at the center of concern is based in Alaska’s Skagway. Several vessels from major cruise lines stop daily, and passengers frequently disembark to embark on land excursions.
The concern rises as a section of a major dock in the port sits at the foot of a mountain and rock formation that will eventually fail or collapse, per a report shared with the Skagway Municipal officials by a geological consultant earlier this month.
Such a massive collapse would be “catastrophic,” per the report from Shannon and Wilson. It could threaten a dock in the port, waterfront businesses, and passengers who typically congregate at the foot of the hill during the cruise season’s busiest months.
During a public meeting, Reba Hylton, a Skagway Assembly member, said they were taken aback at what a vulnerable condition everyone was in.
The slope threatening the port has rocks placed over 600 feet above the dock, and the area was subject to rockslides earlier, with local leaders pointing out two slides that took place fall of 2017. Juneau, an Alaska-based KTOO, highlights another slide in June. However, everyone was lucky, and no one was injured.
Geologists observed that the rock movement has lately accelerated and predicted a more significant ‘failure’ of rock formation is more likely to occur.
The report highlighted that a reasonable way out would be a “controlled evacuation” of a port segment while crew members work to safeguard the area.
It is a hard pill to swallow, especially in Skagway, where the cruise industry – and the livelihood of all individuals relying on day excursions from passengers at the port – has been impacted over the past two summers as the cruise industry was hit hard by the ongoing pandemic.
A train excursion major named White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad is one of the businesses trapped in this problem’s crosshairs. The firm’s dock might be in the path of a probable rockslide.
Currently, the firm continues to operate the railroad excursions, a spokesperson of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad told TPG on Monday (evening) while observing that the firm is working toward safe short- and long-term solutions.
Appropriate steps have been taken and will continue to be taken to deal with this issue as we collaborate with the Skagway municipality, a firm official reported to TPG on Monday.
Meanwhile, KTOO reported that officials are re-routing passenger foot traffic on land in the port to lower the risks to cruise goers.
While discussing the issue last week, municipal officials spoke about the need for long-term solutions to mitigate the threat and more immediate ones to safeguard the lives of those who frequent the area.
References; The Points Guy, Alaska Public Media