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Feds officially kill Juneau road extension that Walker previously halted

JUNEAU – The federal government has officially killed a project to improve access to Alaska's capital nearly two years after Gov. Bill Walker halted the road extension.

In a document published Thursday, the Federal Highway Administration said it has decided to take no action on the proposed 50-mile road extension north from Juneau, the Juneau Empire reported.

The document by Alaska Division Administrator Sandra Garcia-Aline cited the state's shrinking budget and "a high level of controversy" over construction as principal factors for the road not being built.

The Juneau Access Project aimed to connect the city to the North American road system as well as lower costs and reduce ferry travel for drivers trying to reach Skagway or Haines. Juneau is accessible only by water or air.

The project divided Juneau residents and was opposed by environmental groups that said the road would disrupt environmentally sensitive areas.

The agency's decision is a "huge victory," said Buck Lindekugel, an attorney for the SouthEast Alaska Conservation Council, which opposed the project.

"This road was unsafe and impractical, and the costs always outweighed the benefits and it just didn't make sense," Lindekugel said. "We thank the governor for his steadfast opposition, and we are glad to see the agencies take this action."

Walker stopped the project in late 2016, citing the state's fiscal crisis.

"The FHWA no-build record of decision for the Juneau Access road closes the previously proposed project," Walker said in a statement. "The funding that the legislature appropriated will not be spent, and will remain in the account until acceptable alternative concepts to advance transportation access for Juneau are proposed and agreed upon by stakeholders."

More than $42 million is unallocated in project accounts, according to the state Department of Transportation.

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