Alaska road opponents want funds shifted to ferry system | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Alaska road opponents want funds shifted to ferry system

March 12, 2020 - 6:23 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Opponents of a $40 million Alaska state road project argued lawmakers should use the money to help restore ferries operated by the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Skeptics of the Kake access project contend the money could benefit coastal Alaska at a time when budget cuts and mechanical issues have left many communities without ferry service for months, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.

The Kake access project would link 21 miles (34 kilometres) of existing logging roads with 13 miles (21 kilometres) of new roads across Kupreanof Island in central Southeast Alaska.

Kake has about 600 residents on the west side of Kupreanof and the road to the east side of the island would provide residents improved access to Petersburg on nearby Mitkof Island, which has a larger airport with daily Alaska Airlines service and a small hospital, proponents said.

Joel Jackson, president of the Organized Village of Kake, the community's tribal government, insisted most residents do not believe they will see the benefits of the road, which could require more state-funded infrastructure.

Jackson called the project “our road to nowhere” and said he believes the money would be better spent improving ferry service.

The Kake road was approved by the Legislature in 2012. The project was one of several state-funded construction plans put into abeyance by former Gov. Bill Walker’s administration following a drop in oil prices.

Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner John MacKinnon said the department restarted the project in part to follow through with what the Legislature directed them to do years ago.

“It’s one of those things, when we get an appropriation to do something we consider that an obligation to try and carry out,” MacKinnon said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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