ICYMI: Murkowski Highlights Alaska Travel and Transportation

“Traveling in Alaska can be an adventure -flexibility is always key.”

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently spoke on the Senate floor to emphasize the uniqueness of transportation and travel in Alaska, explaining to her colleagues why road trips in Alaska take on a different meaning.

“I come from a state with over 663,000 square miles. But within those 663,000 square miles we don't have a lot of roads.” said Senator Murkowski. “Over 82 percent of the communities in the state of Alaska are not connected by roads and not part of the road system. So traveling in Alaska can be a little bit of an adventure. Flexibility is always key.”

Alaska Transportation Floor Speech

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During her remarks, Murkowski explained why aviation is a lifeline in Alaska, utilizing everything from helicopters to commercial and bush carriers to smaller planes with floats and skis to land on snow and water.

“We don't have airstrips in many of our communities. What we do is we come in and out on the water, on our float planes. That's how we get around is on the water. Sometimes you don't have the water though, and in a place like Alaska what we do have in the wintertime is a fair amount of snow. So you take your floats off and you put your skis on,” Murkowski said. “There's some places where you don't have the airstrip, where a float plane can't land, and the only way to get in and out is by helicopter. Little Diomede –an island with less than 100 people, a school, and health center –is one of those. Mail is delivered by helicopter. People fly in and out of the island by helicopter –with the exception of a few weeks when the ocean freezes over and an airstrip can be made on the ice.” 

And when flying isn’t an option, Murkowski explained how Alaskans utilize other methods of transportation such as riverboats and ferries, as well as traveling by ATV, snowmachines, or on boardwalks on top of the tundra. 

“The other way that we get around when you don't have a lot of roads is on our rivers. One thing is Alaska is blessed with is a lot of rivers. We have 365,000 miles of rivers. In the summertime those rivers are our roads.” Murkowski said. “But this is how we travel in the summer is up and down these rivers. So in the summer it makes it possible to move around these communities. In the winter you move around by snowmachine and you have trucks out there as well. When the rivers freeze, you now have your frozen highway. Down in the southeastern part of the state where I was born and spent a lot of my growing up years there, these are all islanded communities. The way that we move around is we either fly Alaska Airlines, smaller carriers, or we rely on our Alaska Marine Highway system –our ferry system. This is our marine lifeline. This is how we move freight, how we move vehicles, how we move goods, and how we move people.”

Murkowski concluded her speech noting that she’s looking forward to being back home in Alaska during the Senate’s August State Work Period where she will have an opportunity to utilize Alaska’s various modes of transportation to visit Alaskans in communities across the state.

Murkowski said, “I'm just reminded every day of the privilege and the honor to be able to travel an extraordinary state like Alaska using a little bit of everything to get us where we need to get to visit some of the finest Americans that I know and that I’m blessed to be able to serve.”