Transportation projects get Palin's endorsement

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2009

Gov. Sarah Palin said Thursday that while she may decline to accept some federal stimulus projects, it wouldn't be money tied to transportation projects.

"Those are truly stimulus package-worthy projects, and we're saying 'Yes' to those," she said.

At a press conference Thursday, Palin said the only part of Alaska's expected $845 million stimulus funding she'd oppose would be money to expand programs or services that the state would later have to pick up the tab for when federal dollars run out.

"We're not talking about construction projects," she said.

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities also has released a list of projects recommended for stimulus funding, which may include several Juneau projects.

Palin said those were the type of projects that are not in danger.

"There has been a misperception in the public we would turn down dollars for ... some construction projects for political reasons," she said.

Among the local projects recommended for stimulus funding are:

• $3 million for the downtown Juneau Transit Center

• $1.5 million for the Jordan Creek Bridge at Trout Street

• $1,5 million for bridges, including the Basin Road Trestle Bridge

• $4 million for Glacier Highway repaving from Mendenhall Loop to the ferry terminal

• $12.2 million for widening Glacier Highway, from Amalga Harbor to Eagle River

All the projects other than the transit center are listed on the state's "contingent" list, meaning their funding is not assured and may depend upon money becoming available, perhaps from other states.

Several ferry projects, including a new Alaska class ferry, vessel refurbishment, and Hoonah ferry terminal improvements, were not recommended for funding.

According to information provided by DOT, there were no transit funds allocated for Alaska that could have been used for those projects.

No Juneau aviation projects are on the list, but a few nearby communities do have projects. Angoon may get funding for an Environmental Impact Statement for an airport through the regular transportation funding process, and Hoonah may get stimulus money for improvements to its airport.

Palin said she met with Legislators Thursday, and there were no points of disagreement.

"We have to make sure that at the end of the day every dollar accepted by the state is a good dollar, and makes sense for our constituents," she said.

She declined to say whether she'd veto federal money, but said she'd work with legislators to come to an agreement on what to accept.

"I don't foresee the need to veto anything," she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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