The Skagway ferry dock. (Emily Files)

The Skagway ferry dock. (Emily Files)

Next week, Skagway residents will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on a difficult question: what time of year would be best for a two-and-a-half-month ferry dock closure?

The State Department of Transportation plans to refurbish Skagway’s marine highway dock.

The refurbishment will put the dock out of commission for about two and half months. Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer gave an update at an assembly meeting Thursday.

“A shutdown of the float is coming,” Schaefer said. “We have to figure out when is best for us and any alternatives.”

Schaefer said marine highway chief Mike Neussl  said there are three closure options: summer of 2017 between June and August, fall of 2017 between September and November, or spring of 2018 between February and April.

“That’s the basic question we have to answer,” Schaefer said. “When do we think the best window is for a ferry float closure?”

Schaefer scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday (Sept. 7) at 5 p.m. in assembly chambers to gather community input on that question.

Whether the dock repair will knock out marine highway service completely is up in the air. If the project were to happen in fall or winter of next year, the ferry system is still trying to figure out which vessel will run the Prince Rupert-to-Skagway route. The usual ship – the Matanuska – is scheduled to undergo repairs during that time.

A DOT spokesperson said last month that passenger-only service using one of Skagway’s other docks might be an option. But those plans have yet to be worked out.