Fairbanks Daily News Miner: Murkowski marks anniversary of federal bill worth billons for Alaska

About $96.3 million in federal funding is being spent on capital improvements in the Fairbanks North Star Borough thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law one year ago on Nov. 15.

The program is expected to bring in $1 billion a year to Alaska over five years.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced the one-year anniversary of the legislation earlier this month, calling it “one of the most significant measures I’ve ever worked on.”

So far, about $3 billion worth of projects have been announced for Alaska, according to Murkowski, one of the bill’s architects. 

Most of the money allocated for the Fairbanks North Star Borough to date is helping to finance a $148 million project to shore up the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project in North Pole.

A Florida contractor is performing the work, which began in the spring and is expected to be completed by 2026.

Other Fairbanks area projects include $2.4 million for upgrades of the Metropolitan Area Commuter System, $3.8 million in improvements at the Fairbanks International Airport and $1 million worth of watershed restoration, according to an online database provided by Murkowski’s office.

The senator said in a statement that “Alaskans are now receiving good news from it on a near-daily basis.”

She was among a key bipartisan group of 10 senators who spent several months last year helping to carry the legislation through the Senate. The bill passed with support from U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

The late Congressman Don Young played a key role in helping adopt the $1.2 trillion legislation, joining 12 other House Republicans in support. The final vote was 228-206.

Economists say the infusion of federal dollars for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure is adding thousands of jobs to the state economy.

“The nearly $3 billion announced for Alaska over the past year is creating jobs throughout our state and helping us build the basic infrastructure that the Lower 48 already enjoys,” reads Murkowski’s statement.

“It is bringing clean water and broadband to every corner of Alaska, facilitating the improvement of airports and the expansion of strategic ports, and has given the Alaska Marine Highway System a new lease on life. Many of the projects being funded under this new law are just beginning, but will ultimately make our communities safer, more connected, and a better place to live.”

The new infrastructure law funded the second phase of the Moose Creek dam project with about $88.6 million.

Bauer Foundation Corp. of Florida is building a mix-in-place concrete barrier wall that will span more than 4.5 miles long at a depth of up to 65 feet in one of the largest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works endeavors in Alaska since the completion of the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project near Juneau more than 30 years ago.

Construction is currently paused for the winter.

“It’s a big, big project,” said John Budnik, public affairs specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers. “It’s really all about addressing risk associated with aging infrastructure.”

The work was called for after an inspection in 2017.

By:  Amanda Bohman
Source: Fairbanks Daily News Miner