The state of Alaska will foot the bill for construction of the Kensington gold mine's access road from Slate Creek Cove to its mill site on the west side of Berners Bay.
The 4.9-mile road - a former trail that is designated as a state right of way - will cost between $1 million and 2.5 million, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which put the project out to bid on Tuesday.
The money to build the road will come from the state's industrial roads program, which is funded by the Alaska Legislature and allocated to individual projects at the discretion of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Mike Barton.
Coeur Alaska, the developer of the Kensington mine, wrote letters and gave some arguments in favor of using state money to build the road, said Pat Kemp, the Transportation and Public Facilities Department's Southeast regional preconstruction engineer.
"The state is footing the bill solely for the benefit of a multinational mine. It's amazing, given all the other needs we have in Alaska," said Buck Lindekugel, a staff attorney for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. The group is suing to block one of the mine's water discharge permits.
Kemp said potential projects funded by the industrial roads program are ranked for their ability to generate jobs and bolster the economy.
The state also paid for a 2.5-mile road that cost nearly $1 million and will transport Kensington workers from the current terminus of Juneau's road system to a ferry terminal at Cascade Point.
A meeting about the new road project is scheduled for Oct. 14 in Juneau.
Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.