Murkowski Secures Funds to Address Alaska’s Unique Transportation Needs

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill, which includes several Alaska-specific provisions secured by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“Alaska’s transportation needs are unique and diverse, and I thank my fellow Senate appropriators for providing the funds to address these needs,” said Senator Murkowski. “Many of the programs supported in this appropriations bill provide critical services to some of Alaska most at-risk populations. As the state grapples with a major financial crisis, these funds are more critical than ever to support Alaska’s transportation and infrastructure needs.”

Items of note in T-HUD:

  • Federal-Aid Highway Program: Alaska will receive $464 million dollars to conduct highway transportation projects, a level set by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, passed last year.
  • Transportation Investment Generating Economic Development (TIGER) Grants: Proves $525 million, $25 million more than last year, for capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities.
  • Highways: Allocates $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which will allow the Alaska Department of Transportation to repurpose old, unused earmarks for newer infrastructure projects.
  • Aviation: Funds the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at $16.4 billion. This will provide full funding for all air traffic control personnel, including more than 14,000 air traffic controllers, and more than 25,000 engineers, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel. It also provides $1 billion for NextGen systems.
  • Essential Air Service: Funds Essential Air Service at $150 million, a program to maintain commercial air service in approximately 60 small communities throughout Alaska.
  • Airport Approach Lighting: Murkowski secured report language to improve the safety of aircraft landing. This language directs the FAA to take into account mountainous terrain and inclement weather conditions when considering funding for Approach Lighting System Improvement Program.
  • Indian Housing Block Grants: Provides $646.5 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 $60 million for the Indian Community Development Fund, used for developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities.
  • Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund: Provides $6.5 million for the Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund, a home mortgage specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities.
  • HUD-VASH Demonstration Program for Homeless and At-Risk Native Vets: Allocates $7 million for a demonstration program to offer a permanent home and supportive services to Native American Veterans who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
  • Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program: Allocates $950 million to fund the HOME Investment Partnerships program—a critical program to support affordable housing needs.
  • Emphasis on Youth Homelessness: Includes provisions to expand and improve delivery of housing and services for homeless youth. It also provides $20 million to support more than 2,500 new family unification vouchers to prevent youth from becoming homeless after exiting foster care. Also includes an additional $40 million to test comprehensive efforts to end youth homelessness in urban and rural areas.

Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska