ROADS/BRIDGES: Alaska Gov. Walker shuts down Knik Arm Crossing, Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric projects

June 30, 2016

The announcement comes amidst a press conference that discussed other vetoed budget items

Governor Bill Walker has announced that he is shutting down two megaprojects in Alaska’a Mat-Su: the Knik Arm bridge project, and the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.

The Knik Arm Crossing and the Susitna-Watana were considered to be contentious, controversial projects. Governor Bill Walker says those projects will now come to an end, not necessarily due to their controversial nature, but due to the state’s financial situation.

“We’re balancing the checkbook because that’s the hand we were dealt,” Walker said. “It pains me to shut down anything involving a construction project or an infrastructure project.”

Walker said that the studies and prep work that have gone into both megaprojects will be preserved. Susitna-Watana alone has spent nearly $300 million on studies as part of its federal licensing process, and Walker does not want that data to be lost.

Susitna-Watana has not received funding for two years, and a deal struck last year tied large-scale funding for the Knik Arm Bridge to securing federal loans established by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson Shannon McCarthy said that some preliminary work is ongoing, including continuing attempts at securing a TIFIA loan, but the level of fieldwork has been low. “The tasks that are in progress right now, if those can be quickly completed and brought to a halt, we would be doing that. The other ones, we’ll have to see where they’re at in terms of their progress,” she said.

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