The Tongass Narrows is part of Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. The waterway forms part of the Alaska Marine Highway. Many types of vessels operate on the channel, such as charter, commercial fishing, and recreational vessels, as well as commercial freight barges and tanks, kayaks, sailboats and passenger ferries. There is also extensive seaplane traffic on the Narrows, as Ketchikan is the regional center for air transportation to isolated communities.
A proposal to build the Gravina Island Bridge across the Tongass Narrows was shelved due to a national-level controversy over the “bridge to nowhere“. The bridge was supposed to replace the ferry that currently connects the town of Ketchikan with Gravina Island, where Ketchikan International Airport as well as 50 residents are located. The bridge was projected to cost $398 million.