The Port of Anchorage is among the major infrastructure projects in need of federal assistance that Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) highlighted in a recent memo to the Trump administration.
Through the assistance of about $400 million, the state would be able to continue rebuilding the aging port, a key freight hub statewide.
Construction at the port is expected to commence this year, while other “shovel ready” aspects of the project await funding, according to a memo listing projects the governor’s office presented to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget earlier this month.
Modernizing the port would “ensure goods are moved throughout the state in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” the memo stated.
The port handles about 3½ million tons of food, building materials, fuel, cement, vehicles and apparel annually. It also serves deep-water vessels throughout the year.
Also on the list is a call for a $125 million grant to complete a rail extension at Port MacKenzie. The rail system would be used for transporting minerals, natural resources, and equipment for large construction projects. It also would serve as a backup to the Port of Anchorage.
The governor’s office also is seeking federal loan guarantees and expedited regulatory review for construction of the proposed Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Project. At $43 billion, the project would allow Alaska to commercialize 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas available at the northern oil fields.
Additionally, the state is seeking to build a North Slope gas treatment plant, as well as an 800-mile natural gas pipeline, a liquefaction plant and an LNG export terminal along the southern coast. And, the state is looking to gain access to federal land to build the final 12 miles of a road that would connect the city of King Cove with the city of Cold Bay. The project, estimated at $22 million, would improve access to the airport at Cold Bay to enable access to health services and the flow of freight, according to the governor’s office.
Walker is pushing for additional federal funds largely in response to the proposals from the Trump administration. In May, the governor criticized the president’s fiscal 2018 budget request that would cut funding for grants that would back infrastructure projects.
“We are concerned about what some of the deep cuts, if sustained, would mean for crucial services — like air travel for rural residents and infrastructure assistance to villages. We will continue to work with members of our congressional delegation and the Trump administration to ensure Alaskans are protected,” Walker said in May.
As the governor continues to clamor for federal dollars, legislators have pushed back on his proposal to raise taxes on fuel in the state. Walker has been calling for tripling the 8 cents-per-gallon tax over a two-year period. He told Transport Topics in February, “I think that it’s reasonable that it’s going to pass.”
If the state raises its fuel taxes, it would become the 26th to do so in recent years, mostly due to lack of federal funds for rebuilding freight infrastructure.