JUNEAU, Alaska - Alaska intends to revisit plans to update a ferry terminal on Canadian land but wants to allow a cooling-off period in a dispute over the use of American steel in the project, a state official said Thursday.
The state canceled bids for the project Wednesday. A few days earlier, the Canadian government signed an order that would have blocked the project - which is on land the state leases at Prince Rupert, British Columbia - unless a resolution was reached.
Patricia Eckert, associate director for international trade in the governor's office, said the state transportation department can maintain current operations at Prince Rupert for up to five years. Officials were looking at the terms of the state's lease to see if it had any obligations to make terminal updates within a certain timeframe.
The port is part of the Alaska Marine Highway System.
"I think now we're just in a period where the waters can calm and we can revisit this later," Eckert said.
The state plans to re-engage with Canadian officials, probably at some point within the next year, she said.
The dispute is centered on a "Buy America" requirement for steel, iron and manufactured products used in projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Much of the construction funding was to come from the federal agency, with the rest coming from the state.
Canadian officials, who called the requirement unacceptable, suggested the state seek a waiver of the provision. Gov. Bill Walker said, however, that he did not see a need for that.
Canadian contractors would have been able to bid on the project, Eckert said, but they would have had to use U.S. steel and iron.