A funding feud in the state of Alaska took a heavy dose of gasoline last night.
The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reported that a proposed $16.1 million Richardson Highway interchange project has been pushed back five years.
Voters approved a $102 million bond package last year, and the issuing of those bonds was supposed to be over six years. Gov. Frank Murkowski did it over three years, and all the eight projects financed by the bonds must be 85% complete in the three years in order for the federal government to reimburse the state for the bonds. The Alaska DOT has determined that one of the jobs, the Richardson Highway interchange, will not be completed quick enough. The agency has moved almost all of the bond money to the seven remaining projects, and the interchange will now be paid for out of normal federal highway dollars and is scheduled to begin in 2008.
Officials also argued that the funding awarded to Anchorage's central region has been on the upswing, while the amount given to the northern region--which encompasses about half of the state--has remained stagnant.
According to the Daily News-Miner, the central region received $84 million in state-funneled federal highway money while the northern region garnered $58 million. In 2003, the central region was awarded $141 million and the northern region received $59 million.
DOT Commissioner Mike Barton said Anchorage's fiscal amount is determined by demographics and other factors. He noted that the central region has 3 1/2 times as many people as the northern region and more than twice the road fatality rate.