Gov. Tony Knowles and Joe Perkins, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, announced Jan. 8 in Ketchikan the state's recommendation for improved access between Revillagigedo and Gravina islands.
The state recommends what it calls the Pennock alternative: Two bridges touching on Pennock Island to connect the larger islands.
"The Pennock alternative is the best for meeting the community's need for improved access to the airport and Gravina Island, while minimizing impacts to the tourism community, the aviation community and downtown area," Perkins said in a news release.
In addition, the crossing would be "less visually intrusive" and would use "bridge structures that are not as technically challenging as other alternatives," he said.
Perkins said the price tag for the project is estimated at between $165 million and $170 million; the news release gave an estimate of $190 million.
"The Alaska congressional delegation has secured $20 million in federal money to get the project started," Knowles said. The state's match is 20 percent.
If the delegation is successful in securing the full construction cost, "the Pennock Island crossing could be the biggest construction project in Southeast Alaska in a decade," Knowles said.
The announcement began the beginning of a 60-day public comment process, after which the state will make its final recommendation for the draft environmental impact statement process.
"This is a major, major hurdle that's been passed, and now it's in you-all's hands to tell us what you think," Perkins said.
He said the department would be listening to the community's comments.