Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has introduced his proposed $356 million infrastructure proposal with two Mat-Su region projects on the list.
One is a $9 million replacement for Houston Middle School, which was heavily damaged in the 2018 Southcentral Alaska earthquake. A second involves a $8.5 million project to continue work on the West Susitna Access project, a proposed 100-mile road that would open western regions of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough that are now inaccessible to year-around surface access.
Senate Bill 74, introduced last Friday, is the first statewide bond proposal in nearly 10 years. The governor sees it as a key part of his economic plan that will improve transportation, education, recreation, and communications systems in different parts of the state.
If the bond bill is approved and voters give the okay, the state would be taking advantage of historically low interest rates to finance the work. Upon passage by the Legislature, the general obligation bond will go to a vote of the people.
“This statewide bond package is essential to stabilizing our economy and putting Alaskans back to work following the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic,” the governor said. “Not only will this proposal create jobs, it will improve critical infrastructure for all Alaskans. I look forward to working with the Legislature to take this to a vote of the people following the 2021 legislative session.”
The proposal totals $356,405,952 and leverages a federal match of $1,003,471,000. Projects of interest included in the general obligation bond include:
• $8.5 million to West Susitna Road Access project
• $25 million to School Major Maintenance Grant Fund
• $18.9 million to Fairbanks Youth Facility
• $2.4 million to Fairbanks Pioneer Home
• $19.5 million to Alaska Vocational Technical Center upgrades
• $12 million to Alaska Public Safety Communication Services System upgrades
• $13.2 million to Fairbanks to Seward Multi-Use Recreation Trail Construction
• $20 million to Statewide Firebreak Construction Program
• $2.4 million to Alaska Wildlife Troopers Marine Enforcement repair and replacement
• $4.2 million to Bethel Airport
• $8.3 million to Craig Harbor
• $28.8 million to Dalton Highway repairs and upgrades
• $540,000 to Denali Highway Mile Point 24-25 (Milepost 22)
• $5.6 million to Ketchikan South Tongass Highway
• $29.9 million to Sterling Highway Miles 8-25 (Milepost 45-60) Sunrise to Skilak
• $9.3 million to Unalaska Harbor
• $29.6 million to University of Alaska infrastructure projects
Bond issues are typically balanced for public benefits in different parts of the state. Funding for the West Susitna road project, for example, would help a project now planning to open western parts of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough to public access and economic development.
Planning for the approximate 100-mile road is now underway. It would begin at Port MacKenzie south of Wasilla an extend west. A mining company is exploring a minerals deposit near the end of the road. Similarly, the bond bill proposes projects in Interior, Southeast and Southwest Alaska.
The Legislature can, and probably will, add or delete projects from the Legislation. While the governor can veto the entire bill he cannot veto individual projects like he can with budget bills, where he has “line item” veto authority.