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

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

A much-needed permit was approved this week by the Army Corps of Engineers. It allows the Haines Portage Cove Harbor Expansion Project to move forward.

“The 408 permit came through today, actually, so now there are conditions on it, but they are conditions that we’re aware of and it should not be an issue,” Interim manager Brad Ryan told the Haines Borough Assembly at Tuesday’s meeting. Now that the 408 is out of the way, work can begin on the 404 permit.

The 408 permit is needed when a proposed development could potentially impact an existing Army Corps project, in this case the rubble-mound breakwater. The 404 is a permit required in conjunction with the Clean Water Act and is necessary when dredged material is discharged in water.

Ryan said one of the changes required with the 408 permit was larger riprap on the end of the breakwater. Riprap is rocks or other material used along shorelines or pilings to prevent erosion and damage. As for a rough timeline, Ryan said PND Engineers said if the 404 permit goes off without a hitch, bid documents could be prepared in August, and the project could go out to bid in October. That means, tentatively, the first phase of the harbor project could be completed by May 2018.

Assemblymember Margaret Friedenauer asked about the timeline for a park to be built as part of the project. An expanded parking lot will displace the current location of Lookout Park. Ryan responded that once the borough budget gets passed, there’s money in it for conceptual waterfront designs to start looking at park ideas.

“We’ll start with the conceptual trail designs and the park, and the same thing with the sport ramp, we’re going to hold public meetings to get plenty of feedback,” Ryan said.

But, he said, in all likelihood, aesthetic improvements would come after Phase 1 of the harbor expansion is complete.