Murkowski Secures Funding Critical to Meeting Transportation and Housing Needs in Alaska
Robust Funding for Essential Air Service
The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2019, which includes Alaska-specific provisions secured by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to meet Alaska’s unique needs and challenges. Funding is provided to continue the Essential Air Service, a program to maintain commercial air service in approximately 60 small communities throughout Alaska as well as housing assistance for our most at-risk populations.
“It is beyond doubt that Alaska has unique and diverse transportation and infrastructure needs—whether it be due to our state’s vast size, remoteness, terrain, or harsh climate. I am thankful my fellow Senate appropriators worked with me to provide funds to address the unique challenges head on,” said Senator Murkowski. “Through this bill, we provide substantial investments for capital projects that will improve access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation as well as maintain transportation networks critical to Alaskans, all while generating economic development. As the state grapples with budget shortfalls, these funds are more critical than ever to support Alaska’s transportation and infrastructure needs and enabling our communities to be safer as a result.”
Expanding Transportation in Alaska:
- Essential Air Service: Increased funding of $315 million, $30 million more than the previous fiscal year, to support access for rural communities otherwise isolated from the National Air Transportation System.
- Air Carriers: A change in FAA regulations would require intermittent large air cargo carriers in Alaska to use National Weather Service forecasted reports. Senator Murkowski secured language that allows these carriers to continue flying by using available weather data, such as a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) or Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR), given that the National Weather Service does not have forecasted weather data available for most of Alaska. As a result, the air carriers can continue to deliver necessary and even life-saving deliveries of cargo to remote locations in Alaska.
- Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grants: Previously known as TIGER grants, provides a substantial increase to $1 billion for capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities, such as investing in road, rail, transit, and port projects to maintain transportation networks critical to Alaska.
- Ferry Boat and Facilities Funding: Provides level funding of $80 million under the FAST Act to maintain a national ferry boat database and improves construction of ferry boats, acquiring right-of-way, and constructing ferry terminal facilities.
- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements: Provides $255 million to support the safety, efficiency, and reliability of passenger freight rail transportation.
- Indian Housing Block Grants: Provides $750 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant, to provide a range of affordable housing activities on Indian reservations and Indian areas.
- Indian Community Development Fund: Allocates $65 million for the Indian Community Development Program within the Community Development Fund, used for developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities.
- HUD-VASH Demonstration Program for Homeless and At-Risk Native Vets: Allocates $5 million for HUD-VASH vouchers, a demonstration program offering permanent homes and supportive services to Native American Veterans who are experiencing or risk experiencing homelessness.
- Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program: Allocates $1.362 billion to fund the HOME Investment Partnerships program, which provides grants to States and localities to fund building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.
- Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: Provides $147 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which operates under the trade name NeighborWorks America. $2 million has been set aside for promotion and development of shared equity housing models.