WASILLA — Work is back on track to upgrade a notoriously dangerous section of Knik-Goose Bay Road near Wasilla.
The road locally known as "KGB" links Wasilla to the subdivisions that make up one of the fastest growing parts of Mat-Su. A drive along the busy two-lane road is often an exercise in dangerous passes and high-pressure tailgaters.
Gov. Bill Walker this week announced the resumption of stalled construction work on a deadly section that spans three miles between Vine Road and Settler's Bay Drive.
Walker put the project on hold last year along with others given the state's financial situation, spokeswoman Grace Jang said. "Then he said, 'Nope, we need to do the right thing.'"
The governor made the decision earlier this week during a meeting with Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken to discuss summer projects, according to Jang.
The decision restarts work on a more than $30 million four-lane divided highway, according to information from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
The Legislature already allocated the project funding, which comes out of general funds, officials say.
State House Republicans representing Mat-Su who say they lobbied hard for the project this week accused the governor of holding the KGB funding hostage because of their opposition to his new revenue-generating measures.
The House Republican Minority issued a press release Thursday praising the resumption of work. The release stated that four lives have been lost on KGB since what Wasilla Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard called the governor's "unnecessary hold."
Big Lake Rep. Mark Neuman in an interview Friday called the governor's decision to hold up the project "retribution" against Valley legislators for their revenue stance.
"We support further reductions first," Neuman said.
Jang called that accusation "absolutely false."
"It is absolutely not about retribution," she said.
The history of fatal and serious injury crashes on KGB prompted a state road safety corridor designation in 2009. The designation had reduced crashes by 45 percent in 2015, according to a 2016 DOT audit of corridors around the state.
But KGB is still in the top 10 most dangerous roads in the state after the designation, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson Shannon McCarthy said.
Work on the four-way highway is set to resume immediately. The state is about three-quarters of the way through nearly $3 million in design work on the KGB project, according to DOT.
Right-of-way acquisition, utility and construction of the project is estimated to cost another roughly $28 million before completion in 2021.