Matanuska-Susitna Borough

FAQs

There are plans for a rail line at Port MacKenzie. The Alaska Railroad (ARRC) has teamed with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB) to design and construct a rail extension from the Parks Highway to Port MacKenzie. The rail extension project is owned and operated by ARRC, and the MSB, as owner of Port MacKenzie, is the project sponsor. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has approved the Environmental Impact Statement and selected a route to construct a 32.1 mile rail line from the Parks Highway to Port MacKenzie.

We have secured much of the funding needed to begin construction of the rail extension, but are waiting on the Record of Decision before procurement can begin. More detailed information on the Port MacKenzie Rail Extension project may be found at www.portmacrail.com or on the ARRC’s website at: www.alaskarailroad.com under “solicitations.” This legacy project will be of great benefit to the entire State of Alaska by providing a shorter distance to tidewater for bulk transport of goods and commodities between Port MacKenzie and Interior Alaska. The rail extension has the potential to open new markets for minerals and stimulate the creation of new Alaskan jobs.

This site is considered a regulatory State and Local Air Monitoring Station (SLAMS) site. It is very difficult to get permission to remove a monitoring site. Federal rules require the following for removal of a PM2.5 SLAMS site:                                                                                                                                                        

  • The monitor has shown attainment and has a probability of less than 10% of exceeding 80% of the NAAQS during the next 3 years. (Butte cannot show this probability)
  • A monitor that has not measured violations of the NAAQS in the previous five years (Butte has measured violations in the past 5 years)
  • A PM2.5 monitor which EPA has determined cannot be compared to the NAAQS because of its siting. (Butte does not have a siting issue)
  • A SLAMS Monitor not eligible for removal under the above may be moved to a nearby location with the same scale of representation if logistical reasons beyond the state’s control make it impossible to continue operation at its current site. (The Butte site is in a public right of way. This option section typically refers to sites on private property where the land owner wants to have the site removed.)

No.  The MOU in and of itself does not allow the Borough to restrict citizen use of wood stoves.

Such restriction would require a code change and assembly action including public hearing and assembly vote. Wood stoves are an important heating source for many residents especially in areas where other heating sources such as natural gas are not available. Residents are encouraged to purchase wood stoves that meet efficiency standards and operate and maintain them properly.

Dust is a form of particle pollution (see "what is PM10") and the Borough does experience elevated levels of PM10. When we experience high wind events, conditions are dry and low river levels expose large gravel bars and tidal flats (typical in fall and spring), large amounts of glacial silt can be stirred up and carried down the valleys.  The Borough issues several air quality alerts per year because of these wind-blown dust events, but because these elevated PM10 levels are from a natural source, and often not reasonably controllable, rather than being we are not required to control the sources of dust pollution, we are required to mitigate the impacts through air quality advisories and public education. 

All handling, loading, and unloading services are the responsibility of the shipper, vessel owner, or agent. Completion of the Port MacKenzie Terminal Operator Permit is required for any qualified agent desiring to provide longshore services at the terminal facilities.

A privately owned 5’ wide conveyor capable of loading bulk commodities at 2,000 tons/hour. A 230 ton Manitowoc and a 3900 Manitowoc crawler crane (100 ton) are available for lease.

Contractors responsibility is to plow mainline routes, school bus routes, and all the pavement first.  They are then responsible for secondary routes and finally residential streets and roads.   The Contractor also has,  by contract, 48 hours to complete an initial plowing following a storm event.

Downloadable Instructions Knox Box Online Ordering Instructions

To streamline your on-line ordering process, and eliminate the possibility of accidentally ordering a box from the wrong service area, we have put together a few simple steps for placing your order. If you have any questions while attempting to complete your on-line order, you can contact either Casey Laughlin at 861-8005 or Michelle Wagner at 861-8030.

To place your online order:

  1. Visit www.knoxbox.com
  2. Click the green button that has the shopping cart on it.
  3. The next screen will say “To Order, Please Find Your Department First”.
    • Do not enter a zip code.
    • In the Department Name box, always enter Mat-Su (not case sensitive but you need the hyphen).
    • Then click the “Search Departments” button.
  4. Choose the Fire Service Area that the property is located in. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP. PLEASE BE SURE YOU HAVE CONFIRMED WHICH FSA YOUR PROPERTY IS LOCATED IN. IF YOU ORDER INCORRECTLY, THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IN YOUR AREA WILL NOT BE ABLE TO OPEN YOUR KNOX BOX. Click the green “OK” button to choose.
  5. Be sure when you get to the next screen that the FSA you have chosen is shown in the box at the top of the page. This page will give you the options available to order the 3200 Series box. If you wish to order one of these types of boxes, make your selection and click “add to cart”. Then proceed to the checkout process. If you wish to order another type of product, use the left hand menu and choose the item you would like to order. Click “add to cart” and proceed to checkout.
    1. Generally, businesses use the 3200 series boxes.
    2. Residential boxes are generally the 1650 series.
    3. Electronic Gates need to order a “Key Switch” and be wired to the gate.
    4. Padlocks are available for gates that are not electronic.
  6. Always be sure to use an accurate installation address so the fire department can keep track of where we have Knox products. There are times that maintenance is necessary and we want to make sure we know your box is out there and won’t get overlooked.
  7. From here, create an account, and check out.

Knox usually ships quite promptly so there shouldn’t be a long delay in receiving your box.

When you have installed your box, contact Casey Laughlin at 861-8005 or Michelle Wagner at 861-8030 to arrange for someone to come out and lock your key in your Knox Box.

Contact Public Works to submit sign requests. Requestor will need to provide location and contact information. A petition from residents along the subject road is helpful. The Borough will look at the road and evaluate the need and if warranted determine a suitable location. The requestor will be notified of the determination. The Borough will then install the sign when conditions permit.

Mounting instructions are included with your Knox Box purchase. Install the Knox Box no higher than 5 feet from the ground, on the front of building, near the main entrance. If installation is within the Central Mat-Su Fire Service Area, contact the Michelle Wagner in the Fire Code Office (907-861-8030) to schedule a site visit and lock your access key(s) inside the box. For all other service areas within the Borough, contact Casey Laughlin (907-861-8005). See the Knox Box website for instructions on proper mounting.

For interest in using port, contact:
Therese Dolan, Port Operations Manager
therese.dolan@matsugov.us
(907) 861-7799

The Knox Box itself is a high security key vault that is UL listed against physical attack.

No, not unless there are weight restrictions in place, and then all we can do is caution them that they may be exceeding those restrictions. The public roads are just that, public.  We cannot restrict the use of the roads to any one user just because someone does not want them using them.

When setting up air monitoring to represent an area, at least one of the sites is required to be in an area with the highest air pollution. When funding is limited, and resources exist only for one site, it should be located in the area of highest impact. In this way, a limited monitoring network is still protective of the public and when that monitor shows good air quality, one can assume that the other areas are clean as well.

Everyone pays road tax as part of their tax assessment.  If you reside or own property in a designated RSA, you are responsible to pay your fair share of those maintenance costs incurred by that RSA.

Borough primarily has documented 2 different particulate matter (PM) air quality issues. Areas in the Borough experience blowing dust particles, typically in the fall and spring, primarily from natural sources (glacial silt) and is therefore not required to control sources of dust pollution.  The Butte area has documented elevated PM2.5 levels which can be exacerbated by inversions in the winter months that trap smoke from wood stoves, burn barrels, and slash burning close to the ground. 

Port MacKenzie is located in Upper Cook Inlet which has a tidal range of 41 feet, among the highest in the world. Port MacKenzie consists of a 14.7 acres barge dock with a 500’ bulkhead at -20’ mean lower low water (MLLW), a 1,200’ long deep-draft dock at -60’ MLLW, and 9,033 acres (14 square miles) of adjacent uplands which are available for commercial lease. There is a filter rock ramp adjacent to the south wingwall of the barge dock which is useable one hour before high tide until one hour after high tide for vessels with ramps. The barge dock has a gravel surface with a load capacity of 1,000 lbs./sq ft. The deep-draft dock is equipped with a 5’ wide conveyor system capable of loading bulk commodities at 2,000 tons/hour. There is a 7,000 square foot terminal building located on the barge dock with office space available for lease.

The road must be certified by the Borough that it is constructed to Borough standards.  If it is not, that is the responsibility of the residents on that road to bear the costs of bringing it up to a certifiable condition.  After that is done, the residents can petition or request the Borough inspect it again and consider it for maintenance if it meets the required standards.

This is something that comes through the local RSA board during the CIP process.  If you want a street light you must make your local board aware of your request and they will bring it forward as a request on the CIP list.  One of the major criteria for street lights is intersections that are also school bus stops.

Dust control for gravel roads are a CIP (Capital Improvement Program) issue and must start at the local RSA board level for nomination and inclusion in the program. The Road Superintendents will also place very dusty roads in the nomination process with the RSA board during the development of the CIP list.

The current MOU has been in effect since 2006 and it focuses primarily on DEC and the Borough working together to ensure that air monitoring results and health effects are communicated to the public. In this MOU, DEC supplies and operates the monitors and assists the Mat-Su Borough in communicating advisories and alerts. It is important to note that these advisories and alerts relate not only to PM2.5 issues, but also to PM10 and is a critical notification for people that can have major health impacts when air quality is compromised.

A Knox Box is part of a high-security key box system, designed to give firefighters and emergency services immediate access to locked buildings, elevators, and other secured areas.

Coarse particulate matter, or PM10, is less than 10 micrometers in diameter and it primarily comes from road dust, agriculture dust, river beds, construction sites, mining operations and similar activities. The Borough primarily experiences PM10 as blowing dust.

Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5 is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and is a product of combustion, primarily caused by burning fuels.

We have the deepest draft capability in upper Cook Inlet. The largest vessel we have docked at our Port has been a Super Panamax vessel with a length of 754’ and depth of 45.3’; we have docked many Panamax Class vessels and have the capability of docking Cape Class vessels. The face of our Deep-Draft dock is 1200’ at -60’ at Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW).

Latitude: 61° degrees, 16' minutes, north 05.1975; Longitude: 149° degrees, 55' minutes, west 01.4174

Port MacKenzie has 3-Phase electrical power, power capstans, quick release hooks, two fire hydrants, high mast lights, and a telephone booth. Fuel service, waste oil disposal, and garbage disposal may be contracted as needed.

We specialize in bulk commodities such as gravel, coal, wood chips, cement, etc. However, we have also shipped modular homes, oil field modules for the North Slope, logs, and heavy equipment.

Currently, there are two PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) monitoring sites in the Borough Valley: one in Palmer, at S. Gulkana St. and one in the Butte, at Harrison Ct.  In addition to the current monitors, previous sampling locations within the Borough include:                                                                                                                                    

  • Palmer Parks and Maintenance Building (1973-78)
  • South Big Lake Road (1985- 2003, with PM2.5 monitoring from 3/4/2000 to 12/31/2002)
  • Kirsten Square - 1451 E Parks Highway (1/1/1986- 7/31/1986)
  • Colony School Drive (4/11/1998-12/31/1998)
  • Trapper Creek (Established in 2001, still ongoing monitoring for the NPS IMPROVE site, transport site for Denali National Park)
  • 100 W Swanson Ave, Wasilla (1/1/2008-9/30/2012)- closed due to budget cuts and low measurement levels

Most of our exports have gone to the North Slope, South Korea, Japan, and China.

Contact the Borough’s Land Department for information on leasing property at (907) 861-7869. Business or Non-Profit Lease and Permit applications can be found on the Land Management Forms page.

Ambient air quality monitoring is expensive. Monitoring stations have to be set up for at least 3 years to produce sufficient data to compare to the national standards. This requires a lot of money for equipment and staff. In recent years, due to the State budget situation, the State has reduced the number of monitoring stations. DEC currently does not have the staff or funding to expand the monitoring network. DEC relies on public complaints to identify other areas of concern.

Speed bumps/humps are a maintenance concern both in maintaining them and for equipment.  They are also a liability for two wheel traffic both motorcycles and bicycles.

It does absolutely no good to grade a dry road, it actually does more damage than good as it causes to road surface to unravel and it pulls the larger rocks in the surface loose.  It also removes the fines from the surface, and it is that material that binds the top portion of the road together.

In case of an emergency, a Knox Box allows firefighters faster access without costly forced-entry damage.

DEC began monitoring ambient air quality in Palmer/Butte area in summer 1985 in response to smoke generated by fires used to clear land in Point Mackenzie. As a result of this sampling, heavy dust loads were detected, and, by the 1990's Borough complaints about dust in Butte/Palmer had increased.

Federal requirements mandate at least one PM2.5 State and Local Air Monitoring Station (SLAM) for areas with populations between 50,000 and 500,000:                                                            

  • At least one site must be placed in a location that is expected to have the maximum concentration. (Butte meets this requirement)
  • At least one PM2.5 monitoring location in an area with a most recent three-year design value that is ≥85% of any PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). (Butte exceeds 85%)
  • At least one PM2.5 site to monitor regional background and regional transport. (Palmer site meets this requirement)
Simply put, the Borough does not have the authority to manage local air quality programs without an MOU with the State. The Alaska State Legislature has mandated that the Alaska DEC assess, evaluate, and mediate environmental issues that may affect the health and welfare of residents within the state (Title 46 of the Alaska Statutes). Authority for managing air quality can be delegated to a second class borough (AS 29.35.210) through AS 46.14.400 which requires DEC approval of any local program through a cooperative agreement or MOU. Without an MOU, the Borough does not have broad powers to create or manage local air quality programs which include actions like updating outdated Air Quality Code (Matanuska-Susitna Borough Code 8.30), implementing a voluntary cost-share program for homeowners looking to improve the efficiency of their home heating devices, or providing a seasoned-wood swap out program.

The RSA Contractors are required (by contract) to “minimize snow berms” as best as can be expected and they are allowed to leave a berm of 12 inches or less and no more than 24 inches at the base in driveways. Any berms left in front of mailboxes are the responsibility of the resident, but again the contractors are asked to try and minimize the size and depth of the snow left behind. This is all due to economics, the RSA cannot bear the costs of a no berm policy.

This is what we should be doing, we could then grade roads all summer and not have to wait for natural moisture (rain) to occur.  The practice of pre-watering the roads prior to grading is cost prohibitive, that is the only reason we do not do this.

This question has to be directed to your local RSA board for inclusion in the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) process.

PM2.5 is associated with more severe health consequences: the smaller the particle, the greater the potential to impact health because they are small enough to slip through our natural defenses in the oral and nasal passages and penetrate farther into the respiratory tract and even enter the bloodstream. PM2.5 particles can lodge in the very small air sacs of the lungs which can slow the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide and cause the heart to work harder to achieve the same rate of transfer.   These are similar to the health effects caused by the particles in cigarette smoke. This effect is most noticeable in children and the elderly as well as people with respiratory diseases like bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, or heart problems. However, particulate inhalation can affect all people and adverse effects may only appear after repeated low concentration exposures or exposure to extremely high concentrations.

These types of signs are thought to be a means of traffic calming, and they do not work in that capacity. The Borough posts speed limits that appropriate for residential areas and the enforcement of those speed limits are not within the powers of the Borough.

The RSA budgets cannot afford the cost to do this.