August 02, 2003
In a ceremony at the Port of Anchorage, near the point where a bridge would begin on the Anchorage side, the governor named former Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch, former state
"This has been a dream of a lot of Alaskans for as much as 40 years. Well, that dream is being initiated here today," Murkowski said, pointing to an offshore drilling rig that in a month will begin drilling in Cook Inlet to study its seabed geology. "There's some real iron out there, and some real people, and some real energies moving towards an ultimate establishment of this causeway. Starting today we're in the process of making it happen."
The Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority was created this spring when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 213, introduced at the governor's request. The Authority is charged with designing, constructing and operating a toll bridge and its facilities between Anchorage and Point MacKenzie. The authority will be authorized to receive federal funds and issue revenue bonds to finance the bridge.
Other members of the Authority include Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Mike Barton, Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus, Sen. Lyda Green of Wasilla, and Rep. Bill Stolze of Chugiak. Under terms of the legislation creating the authority, all appointments will become official in September.
Wuerch, who will serve as chair of the authority, was mayor of Anchorage from 2000 to 2003, served as member and chairman of the Anchorage Assembly, and was vice president of corporate affairs for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.
Haugen served as Central Regional Director of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities under Gov. Bill Sheffield, and is currently vice president of the Lynden, Inc. shipping firm. Salmon was mayor of the Matanuska Susitna Borough, and is currently president of the Mat-Su Resource Conservation & Development Corporation. All will serve as volunteers for the time being.
Geotechnical surveys of the floor of Cook Inlet in support of a bridge will begin this summer. In beginning its work, the authority will build upon a 1984 draft environmental impact study on possible causeway alignments, traffic demands, alternative analysis and environmental impacts.
Utilizing $5 million in federal funding secured by Rep. Don Young, DOT&PF will update that 1984 study, which included six alternatives for the bridge. One of them is for a two-lane causeway with a 7,200-foot bridge span connecting the Port of Anchorage with Point MacKenzie for a total cost of $783 million, said Mike Scott, central regional director of DOT&PF.
"I think we'd all agree Anchorage has suffered too long with out the major arterioles of a city of its size to move residents from job to home, and move our tourists from one part of the state to another," Murkowski said. "To those who might fear that we're moving too fast, let me assure you: My administration is committed to moving ahead with sound, responsible development projects based on the priorities of the people of the region. This administration is committed to jobs for Alaskans, and this is a significant job opportunity."
Also at the event, Murkowski named former Gov. Bill Sheffield to a seat on the Alaska Railroad Corporation board of directors. Sheffield, who was Alaska's governor from 1982-86 and had previously served as a member of the road board, currently serves as director of the Port of Anchorage.
"It's pretty hard to find
another Alaskan more qualified than Gov. Sheffield to serve on
the board," Murkowski said. "He's been an architect
and advocate for the railroad as governor and as former president
and CEO of the railroad for some seven years. He brings a wealth
of experience to the position. The Alaska Railroad is really
an integral part of Alaska's transportation system and is key
to resource development throughout our state, and I'm pleased
to have him back sharing his railroad experience and expertise
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