Fishing boats in the Haines small boat harbor. (Jillian Rogers)

Fishing boats in the Haines small boat harbor. (Jillian Rogers)

Work on the Haines small boat harbor expansion might run into a long delay because of a newly required U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit.

New rules around the Army Corps 408 permit went into effect in July of last year. A 408 permit is required when a planned project has the potential to impact an existing Corps project.

Haines Borough Manager Dave Sosa says the borough and PND Engineers found out about the new stipulations during the normal permitting process. The Army Corps determined the project requires a  408 permit. Sosa says that’s because the rubble mound wave barrier that is part of the existing harbor was funded by the Army Corps decades ago.

“Because our project, whether we tie into it physically or build around it, has the potential to impact the rubble mound, the Army Corps of Engineers has to make a determination on whether they need to do a detailed study of the effect that any construction on that area would have on the rubble mount,” Sosa said.

The 408 permit requirement is so new that Sosa says the Haines harbor would be the very first project in the state of Alaska to go through this particular permitting process.

Sosa says the borough was planning to start work on the harbor expansion in the spring. He says he’s not sure how long the 408 permit could delay the expansion. He says it has the potential to delay progress for months or a year.

“The bottom line is this is so new to all of the state and federal agencies that they need to take a look at what we’ve got so far and take a look at the requirements to make a determination about what else needs to be done,” Sosa said.

Sosa says he plans to brief the borough assembly on the situation at next week’s meeting.

An Army Corps representative was not available to comment by deadline for this story. We’ll have updates as we receive more information.