Monday, April 27, 2009 0 Responses
Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, said the Dalton, which links rich oil and gas resources on the North Slope to the road system, is Alaska’s “road to the bank,” and as such should be a priority for lawmakers.
“It appeared to me that Governor Palin had taken the advice of the DOT statewide organization on where the critical roads were for pipeline preparations, and certainly that struck me as being sensible,” Therriault said.
He said the money for the few Dalton projects is much-needed.
“We were fortunate, because the needs on the road are so big and have been kind of left lacking the last couple of years,” he said. “We are able to move the ball forward, we’re just not able to move it as far as we hoped.”
Capital budget projects were another matter. Majority members warned others lawmakers not to look for much loose change in the pared-down budget. Projects in districts with powerful majority lawmakers received more funding, he said.
He criticized the disparity in capital projects funding between regions, setting a large portion of the blame on the Finance Committee co-chairmen.
Four Northern Region projects would be funded with the federal stimulus package pending approval by the governor.
Of roughly $174 million in shovel-ready projects, only about $17.2 million went to Northern Region work. That means the area received about 9.3 percent of the total transportation stimulus money allocated to Alaska, but had $78 million worth of work waiting for funds and included on Palin’s must-do list.
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