OPINION: Disappointed with Peltola’s vote on port funding

As an Alaska engineer and surveyor for over four decades, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the transformative power of infrastructure investments in our great state. From bridges and roads to ports and pipelines, these projects have not only connected our communities but also fueled our economic growth and resilience.

Therefore, I was deeply disappointed to learn of Rep. Mary Peltola’s recent vote against House Resolution 4394.

H.R. 4394 was an appropriations bill that contained nearly $26 million in critical funding for multiple Alaska port projects, including $12,561,000 for the port in Anchorage. This decision, I believe, sends a concerning message to our state and our nation about Alaska’s priorities.

The Port of Alaska in Anchorage is the state’s primary gateway for goods and services, handling more than 90% of all inbound containerized cargo to the state. It serves as a vital economic engine, supporting thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in annual revenue. Moreover, as a critical component of our supply chain, the port plays a crucial role in ensuring the availability of essential goods for Alaskans, especially in remote regions.

Yet despite its significance, the Anchorage port is facing a dire need for infrastructure upgrades. Years of wear and tear have taken their toll, and the port’s aging facilities are increasingly susceptible to breakdowns and disruptions. Failure to address these issues promptly could have severe consequences for our economy and our quality of life.

Unfortunately, Peltola’s vote against the appropriations bill jeopardizes the timely completion of these critical repairs. By casting a “nay” vote, she essentially signaled to her colleagues in Congress that Alaska’s port infrastructure is not a priority. This perception could make it significantly more challenging to secure the federal funding we need to address these pressing challenges.

As Alaskans, we are accustomed to competing for federal resources against other states. This is the reality of having a single representative in the U.S. House. However, when a member of our delegation votes against a bill funding projects that our entire delegation has identified as critical, it sends a message that Alaska is not united in its pursuit of federal support, making it easier for other states to advance their interests at our expense.


Peltola indicated she voted against the bill because she believed it to defund the Denali Commission — this proved incorrect, as the bill in fact contained full funding for the Denali Commission. But regardless of her reasons, her vote against it has inadvertently undermined the efforts of her colleagues to secure funding for vital Alaska projects. In such a competitive environment, it is imperative for Alaska’s congressional delegation to stand united in advocating for our state’s needs.

I urge Peltola to reconsider her stance and join her fellow Alaska delegation members in advocating for the full and timely funding of the Anchorage port repairs. Our state’s economy and our very way of life depend on the smooth operation of this critical infrastructure. We cannot afford to delay these necessary upgrades any further.

The Port of Alaska is not just a local asset; it is a lifeline for all Alaskans. It’s time for our congressional delegation to put aside any differences and work together to ensure that this vital infrastructure receives the support it deserves.

Registered professional surveyor and engineer Bob Bell has more than 40 years of civil and land surveying experience in maritime, Arctic, sub-Arctic and temperate regions of Alaska. In his free time, he flies his Cessna 185 floatplane, hunts, fishes and sells his self-authored novels.

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