Transportion bonds pass, but most projects will need more funding

Elwood Brehmer

Alaskans passed the ballot referendum Bonding Proposition A on Nov. 6, approving more than $453.5 million in state transportation and construction funds.

The bond package was supported with by a 57 percent majority and allocates funding for 35 port and road development and maintenance projects.

Anchorage will receive $50 million to continue its port expansion and $101 million designated for road construction and bridge repairs around the city.

Fairbanks collected $24 million for improvements to the Old Steese Highway and $14.4 million to replace the Wendell Street Bridge.

The yes vote allotted the Mat-Su Borough $68.5 to be split between four projects, with $30 million of that dedicated to the Port Mackenzie rail extension project. Port Mackenzie Director Marc Van Dongen said the money will be put to use right away.

"It's going to allow us to stay on schedule for bidding the next phase of the project," he said.

While Bonding Proposition A provides a boost for all the jobs, many of them are still only partially funded. The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities requested $25 million for Kenai Spur Road rehabilitation. Proposition A almost funds the project; it allocates $20 million to the road construction.

Other projects are further from meeting monetary goals, even with bond help. Current plans to expand the Port of Nome are expected to cost nearly $182 million. The port work will receive $10 million, which will be used primarily for conducting preliminary studies on the project, Joy Baker, Nome harbormaster said.

The $30 million provided for Port Mackenzie's work brings secured funding to $146, or 54 percent of the project's total cost, Van Dongen said. Even though more money is needed to complete his and other undertakings in Alaska, Von Dongen said Proposition A was a good start.

"This is a statewide bond package that's going to benefit the entire state," he said.

By Elwood Brehmer
Alaska Journal of Commerce