January 12, 2008
In a letter to Leo von Scheben, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) shared his concerns regarding the limited public review period and public meeting held on the draft Statewide Long Range Transportation Policy Plan. Stedman requested an extension of the public comment period in his letter for at least thirty additional days and requested that open public meetings be scheduled in other population centers around the state. Public meetings were held in Wasilla, Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Stedman wrote, "I am extremely concerned about the timeline your department implemented in developing the state's new long-range transportation plan (SWLRTPP). While the professionals in your department have been working on this document for over a year, elected officials and the public at large have not had time to deliberate on the plan." Stedman said, "I have received a number of letters from business leaders and concerned officials requesting an extension of the public comment period. I hope you will grant their request.
Stedman stated in his January 10th letter to Commissioner von Scheben , "As you well know, this plan is intended to guide Alaska's transportation programs and investments through the year 2030." He said, "The Department of Transportation should be facilitating the greatest amount of public involvement to ensure that the strategic initiatives and policies articulated in the plan accurately reflect Alaskans' priorities, knowledge and values." Stedman said, "Forty-five days is an inadequate amount of time to review, digest and constructively comment on something with such broad ramifications for our state".
Stedman stated that if he understood the situation correctly, "the public comment period began around November 27th, with inadequate public notification, and has been running during a time when most of the public is otherwise occupied with holiday activities and yearend business." Stedman wrote, "I'm disappointed that despite the statewide impact of this plan, only three public meetings where held - Wasilla, Fairbanks and Anchorage. Two of those meetings occurred prior to the plan having been made available to the public."
Stedman concluded his letter by stating he legislature, as the appropriating body, will be providing the financial resources required to implement any transportation plan. He said, "Legislators are unlikely to support operating programs and capital budgets derived from plans that have had limited public review and no legislative scrutiny. It seems reasonable and appropriate then, that the legislature be given an opportunity to deliberate on this plan while in session. Unfortunately, the accelerated pace of your department's schedule precludes our collective input."
Senator Stedman represents District A which includes Baranof, Cannery Creek, Clover Pass, Coffman Cove, Elfin Cove, Etolin Island, Gravina Island, Hidden Falls, Hollis, Ketchikan, Kupreanof, Meyers Chuck, Mountain Point, Mt. Edgecumbe, Mud Bay, Pelican, Peninsula Point, Pennock Island, Petersburg, Port Alexander, Saxman, Scow Bay, Sitka, Thorne Bay, Ward Cove, and Wrangell.
The draft draft Statewide Long
Range Transportation Policy Plan is available for download from
the project website by visiting http://dot.alaska.gov/2030.
Comments must be received by
4:30 p.m. AST, Jan. 21, 2008.
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