House drops funding for road to Skagway

Posted: Friday, May 06, 2005

House legislators on Thursday pared funding for proposed state transportation bond projects, including the proposed road connecting Juneau to Skagway.

A previous version of the transportation bond bill, House Bill 275, provided $10 million to extend Glacier Highway beyond its current terminus at Echo Cove.

That funding has been cut in half. The funding level for the project passed out of the House Thursday night is $5 million.

An aide to Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, said his office knew the project was vulnerable to funding cuts.

The cuts were negotiated by Rep. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage and Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks. Their intention was to be both "geographically diverse" but also accomplish the governor's road priorities, a Meyer aide said Thursday night.

The total list of transportation bond projects was cut from 23 to 13, though none of the three projects in Southeast Alaska was eliminated. As of late April, the combined principal amount authorized for all 23 projects was $195 million.

That amount has now been reduced to $99.4 million.

Gov. Frank Murkowski complained about the bloating of the transportation bond budget during a Thursday morning press conference, calling it "too heavy a draw on future funds."

The state has proposed funding the bulk of the proposed $281 million Juneau-Skagway road with federal earmarks.

So far, Congress has proposed $15 million in earmarks for the project over the next five years for the 68.5-mile road.

Congress has not yet passed the transportation bill that contains that funding.



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