48 Alaska Business | June 2018 www.akbizmag.com
Julie Stricker is a journalist living near
and NANA Regional Corporation needed a
way to get the zinc to a shallow harbor on the
Chukchi Sea, fifty-two miles to the west. The
state’s investment arm, the Alaska Industrial
Development and Export Authority (AIDEA),
financed and built the DeLong Mountain
Transportation System, which includes
the road and port facilities. In return, Teck
Cominco pays a fee for using the road.
A similar strategy is being envisioned for
a proposed road to rich mineral deposits in
the Ambler area. The 211-mile corridor is
currently in the EIS process and is years from
any possible construction. However, AIDEA
spokesman Karsten Rodvik notes that Congress recognized the mineral potential of
the Ambler Mining District, which could
streamline permitting efforts.
Rodvik says that Congress wrote into
ANILCA, Section 201 ( 4)(b): “Congress finds
that there is a need for access for surface trans-
portation purposes across the Western (Kobuk
River) unit of the Gates of the Arctic National
Preserve (from the Ambler Mining District to
the Alaska Pipeline Haul Road) and the Sec-
retary shall permit such access in accordance
with the provisions of this subsection.”
And Alaska has another option to build
roads: state funding.
“There’s a big difference in federally funded
projects and state-funded or privately-funded
projects,” Luiken says. NEPA requirements
aren’t as stringent for non-federal projects,
although the state often works with the US
Army Corps of Engineers.
“That cuts out huge chunks of time that are
usually included in the preconstruction side
of federal projects,” he says.
One example is the fifty-mile road to
Tanana, which begins at Manley Hot Springs
and ends on the south bank of the Yukon
River about six miles from the village of
Tanana. Planning for the road began in 2012
and a single-lane, sixteen-foot-wide gravel
road was completed in 2016 for a total cost
of about $13.7 million, all from the state. All
the land the road traverses is either state land
or privately-owned, so federal NEPA requirements weren’t triggered.
While the road doesn’t meet federal highway standards, it meets the needs of the community to date, says Meadows. Tanana residents have already seen significant savings in
the costs of materials.
It’s an example of what can be done without burdensome regulations, says Luiken.
“It really speaks to what the governor has
been trying to do for the last three years,” he
says. “Get a stable balanced budget that includes other revenue so that we can go back
to funding some of our own projects. We
haven’t done that for years.
“If you want to get projects done in the
state in a timely manner, you’ve got to have
state money involved and we could do that if
we had a stable fiscal plan.” R
“Protecting nature isn’t an
Yes, birds and bears should
have a safe home—but so
should my daughter.”
Cold Bay to King Cove Road Advocate
“Giving the states a little
more authority and a little
more power has actually
proven to be hugely
efficient. States are just
better-equipped to do this
because we’re just focused
on our state, whereas
a federal agency has
fifty states to focus on.”
Commissioner, Alaska Department of
Transportation and Public Facilities
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