ANCHORAGE -

A group of Alaskans is dedicating this week to picking a design that will make expansion of the Port of Anchorage a cost-efficient project that pays off in the long run.

For 50 of the port's users and operators, the process is about doing whatever it takes to make sure the structure can facilitate dependable cargo service over the next few decades.

With the port bringing in almost 90 percent of the state's everyday goods, this group known as the Concept Planning Charrette is huddling inside a room to recommend a design that can be built efficiently after years of watching the initial expansion project balloon past the estimated cost of $300 million dollars.

Mayor Dan Sullivan said the biggest challenge now for completion is getting lawmakers to provide more funding.

"I think we got the right design, the right team in place and I think we have a lot of dedicated professionals we have $130 million dollars in reserve, it's probably going to take about three times that to finish the project," Sullivan said.

That is part of the reason the port may be scaled back to a more traditional pier design model.

"I've recommended that we actually not do one of the initial concepts which is to build a whole new dock on the north end of the port," said Sullivan.

A work in progress that Anchorage Assembly member Jennifer Johnston said must be done right this time around.

"It's got to be long-term, sustainable, and affordable, and serve the purpose and the ultimate purpose isn't just for Anchorage, its for the state," Johnston said.

Representatives from the Army Corp of Engineers, Tote, Horizon, the Municipality of Anchorage, and the engineering firm CH2M Hill which has taken over the expansion project, will recommend three design concepts.

After presenting them to the city in November, a final plan will be approved. Sullivan said he is hoping construction could take place by fall of 2015.