City, BSNC eye Cape Nome jetty expansion
The City of Nome and Bering Straits Native Corporation are discussing expanding the Cape Nome jetty to ease the transport of rock from the adjacent rock quarry.
“There have been discussions about expanding the jetty for many years, but large-scale armor stone projects along the Alaska coastline have brought it back to the table,” said Joy Baker, project manager for the Port of Nome.
The City of Nome owns the jetty that juts out into the water at Cape Nome, and the State of Alaska owns the right-of-way along the Nome-Council highway. BSNC owns and operates Sound Quarry Inc., the rock quarry at Cape Nome. The company and its subsidiaries collaborate with the city on the use and management of the jetty and port infrastructure at the site, said Larry Pederson, vice president of Nome operations for BSNC.
There is a need to improve the existing jetty and port infrastructure “to allow for direct barge access for loading rock,” Pederson said in an email.
“The rock we produce at the quarry is vital to the region and was invaluable for repairing roads in 2022 and 2023 after impacts from ex-typhoon Merbok,” he said. “Rock from the quarry is strategic to western and northern Alaska including the Bering Straits Region for erosion control and coastal resilience in many communities, in addition to major projects like the Port of Nome expansion. This important resource can provide decades of rock and gravel and an improved direct load out option from the Cape Nome jetty and port facility will allow this resource to be more cost effective for current and future projects.”
Baker confirmed that a jetty extension would allow rock to be more easily delivered during the Port of Nome’s planned expansion, which is expected to begin next year. She said in an email: “Going out to deeper water would enable rock to be shipped to the project site for in-water placement (specifically the large armor rock, of which there will be many.)”
So far, only concepts for the jetty expansion are being discussed, Baker said. The Nugget obtained a copy of a preliminary design for a potential expansion that was produced by Michael L. Foster & Associates for BSNC. It shows the jetty double its current length and an L-shaped extension with a new arm that juts toward the southeast. Baker said that BSNC “would ultimately be the operator of the expanded jetty, through a partnership with the City, hence them taking the lead on the expansion of the infrastructure.”
A previous storm blew rock off the jetty, Baker said, and since then everything from the quarry has had to be trucked.
The jetty was further damaged by ex-typhoon Merbok, the strong storm that hit the coast of Western Alaska in September 2022. The site has been undergoing repairs with money from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. These are expected to be completed in 2024.
Federal disaster regulations require the structure to be returned to pre-storm condition, Baker said. So any expansion project would have to occur after the storm repairs are finished.
Ultimately, any expansion project would require permitting, which would include public comments.
Baker said such an expansion would increase revenue for the City of Nome as tariff fees would apply to an expanded facility.