MAT-SU—Significant funding is anticipated from the State capital budget for the fastest growing community in Alaska for roads, rail, highways, fish, tourism, and education. In the operating budget the Goose Creek Correctional Center will receive $32.5 million to become fully operational by summer 2013.
The Mat-Su Borough will also receive $5.73 million from state revenue sharing of oil wealth with Alaska communities.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss just returned from the state legislature. “I developed a great appreciation for our legislators who delivered in that competitive environment down in Juneau,” Mayor DeVilbiss said.
The Mat-Su delegation is: Sen. Charlie Huggins, Sen. Linda Menard, Sen. John Coghill, Rep. Bill Stoltze, Rep. Mark Neuman, Rep. Wes Keller, Rep. Eric Feige, and the late Rep. Carl Gatto. Thank you also to Gov. Sean Parnell for investing in Mat-Su roads and Port MacKenzie Rail.
When the 27th Alaska Legislative session adjourned Monday morning, the Alaska Legislature agreed to match the Borough’s funding, dollar for dollar, in road bond projects for $32.2 million. “Full funding for the road bonds is tremendous. We can build everything voters approved on the list,” Borough Manager John Moosey said, of the 10 road projects and three pathways that are spread across the Borough.
The Borough’s capstone of economic development, Port MacKenzie Rail, has $23.5 million in the capital budget. Another $30 million for rail will go before voters this fall in a state general obligation (G.O.) bond. This summer three construction projects will be underway on Port MacKenzie Rail. Among the three, work has already begun on Segment 1, building five miles of rail embankment north from the port. Over the past two seasons, more than 3 million cubic yards of soil was moved to build the pad for what will be the longest industrial rail loop in Alaska. The 100-rail car loop will efficiently transfer bulk materials from rail to ship.
Some $13.5 million is identified for the Bogard Road Extension in the state’s November G.O. bond package. The appropriation will begin the first phase of construction on the project. The 3.5 mile extension of Bogard Road to Palmer will relieve dangerous traffic congestion on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway by providing a second corridor between Wasilla and Palmer.
More funding for roads includes $10 million in the capital budget for reconstruction of the winding road, Fairview Loop. and $10 million more in the general obligation bond. For Knik Goose Bay Road there’s $10 million in the capital budget and $15 million in G.O. bonds for what has become a congested two-lane highway through a community that grew 123 percent in 11 years.
Recognizing the need for additional modes of transportation the legislature included $2 million in public transit monies to match federal grants. Local public transit can apply for these funds.
Goose Creek Correctional Center is expected to receive $32.25 million in the operating budget and $5 million in capital start up funds. The funding will bring the new state prison up to full operations by summer of 2013. The prison goes into operation July 1 of this year. Some 371 jobs will be created at the new facility, and Alaska inmates housed in Colorado will return by 2013.
A boost for tourism in the Mat-Su is partial funding for electrical power to the South Denali Visitor Center, a joint borough, state, private sector project. The capital budget has $1.5 million that will go toward a $5 million to $6 million bill to extend three-phase power on the Parks highway north to the South Denali site. Additional funding has been pledged by Princess Tours. The visitor center project itself requires $22 million more to complete. Creating access to view the other face of Denali—the south side—this visitor Center will support year-round recreation. Some 350,000 annual visitors are expected.
Local fish are gaining the ear of Alaska legislators with $625,000 dedicated to a Susitna Sockeye Salmon study. The genetic study will help track management and movement of salmon through Cook Inlet in an effort to help restore healthy escapement of sockeye in the Susitna drainage. Mayor DeVilbiss said this genetic study of the saltwater side is big news. It will complement benchmark studies on the Susitna River for the Watana Dam project, DeVilbiss said.
Talkeetna Library has an identified $2.8 million in the capital budget to help meet the growing demand for library services in the Borough’s most northerly community. The project requires a funding match.
"The Mat-Su received the supplemental requests for the school district,” Mayor DeVilbiss said. The projects include:
1. Alaska Middle College School—will serve students in grades 11-12 from the MSBSD. Located at the University of Alaska-Eagle River campus in Eagle River. $500,000
2. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) – Pathways in Engineering & Technology and Health Sciences for Grades 3-12. $425,500
3. Playground Equipment and/or Technology Equipment for Six Charter Schools. $500,000
4. MSBSD Cyber Centers at 5 Area High Schools—expanded instructional choices, supporting digital education as a valuable and necessary option to meet students’ needs.
5. Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AF JROTC) at Wasilla High School: $400,000
For more information call Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan at 745-9577 or
Photo by Alaska Aerial Technologies. The bed of the future 100-car rail loop at Port MacKenzie.
Middle image: Bogard Road 3.5 mile extension.
Left Image: ©Ken Graham The watch tower at Goose Creek Correctional Center.
Bottom right: the view from South Denali Visitor Center on Hero Rock.