Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/12/1995 08:08 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SB 93 - DISPOSAL OF LAND ALONG THE DALTON HIGHWAY                           
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN noted at the end of the last hearing on SB 93           
 there were concerns expressed.  He recalled the question was asked            
 if there is anything which can be done in the conveyance for                  
 priority use or is that an encumbrance the department cannot convey           
 when conveying to a Native corporation.  He wondered if there was             
 any merit in doing that so in the future, if Yukon Pacific came               
 across some land conveyed between now and the time they are ready             
 to take ownership of the land, the construction of a pipeline would           
 not be impeded.                                                               
                                                                               
 RON SWANSON, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF LAND, DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL                
 RESOURCES (DNR), replied for any lease the department issues, the             
 department could do that with a stipulation but land conveyed to              
 the borough would be unencumbered land and the department could not           
 do that.  He said the desire is the department would deal with that           
 provision before the land is conveyed to the borough and if they              
 would accept it with an encumbrance, that would be fine but he did            
 not suspect they would.                                                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN asked if the right-of-ways are in place             
 for the natural gas pipeline.                                                 
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON stated the application is in place but the right-of-way           
 is not in place.                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if there is anything in SB 93 which would           
 impede Yukon Pacific's ability to build a pipeline.                           
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON replied no.                                                       
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN noted for the record that Representative DAVIES             
 had joined the committee.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 096                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES said he had raised concerns at the last            
 hearing on SB 93 about being realistic.  He noted along with                  
 opening the Dalton Highway and the opportunities which may be                 
 provided, there are responsibilities the state has.  He questions             
 how the state's declining revenues are going to cover the costs of            
 providing for those responsibilities.  He thought this might be one           
 instance where a toll should be considered and the simplest way to            
 do that is to establish a one-way toll on the E.L. Patton Bridge at           
 the Yukon River.                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES noted the Department of Transportation (DOT)            
 has taken time to consider a toll.  He said he also discovered that           
 the department does have, in statute, the authority to impose tolls           
 on any highway in the state of Alaska.  He stated this is such a              
 unique situation--the costs are large and the difficulty of                   
 maintenance with the remoteness of the area are going to be a                 
 significant drain on the general fund of the state, especially if             
 some sort of additional revenue source, relating to the operation,            
 is not considered.  He said in reviewing DOT's materials, he noted            
 the department has estimated a high cost for implementing a toll.             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES made a MOTION to AMEND CSSB 93(RES) on page             
 1, line 1, after "Highway":  insert "and to a toll for use of the             
 bridge across the Yukon River".  On page 4, after line 12:  insert            
 new bill sections to read:  "*Sec. 2. AS 19.40 is amended by adding           
 a new section to read:  Sec. 19.40.220.  TOLL.  The commissioner              
 shall establish by regulation a toll for use of the E.L. Patton               
 Bridge across the Yukon River at the southern terminus of the                 
 highway.  *Sec. 3. AS 19.40.290 is amended to read:  Sec.                     
 19.40.290. DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter, (1) "department" means              
 the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; (2)                   
 "highway" means the secondary highway from the southern terminus of           
 the E.L. Patton Bridge across the Yukon River to the Arctic Ocean."           
 Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN OBJECTED for discussion purposes.                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he is not interested in a toll whose               
 only purpose is to pay for the collection of the toll.  He hoped              
 the department could consider an automated means of collecting                
 tolls, which would reduce administrative costs considerably over              
 existing estimates.                                                           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN expressed concern about how the                 
 department would handle the proposed toll.  He noted the majority             
 use of the highway is commercial use.  He wondered if there would             
 be a higher fee for trucks.  He also asked if traffic counts had              
 been done to determine usage of the highway and could the costs be            
 determined based on that count.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES replied the department does have traffic                
 counts.  He said with an assumption the department would impose a             
 toll based on a linear number based on the number of axles, the               
 estimate is the toll would be $20 for a passenger vehicle and $50             
 for a truck.                                                                  
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN BILL WILLIAMS asked if the sponsor supports the                   
 amendment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 TERESA SAGER, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT, SENATOR MIKE MILLER, PRIME               
 SPONSOR, stated Senator Miller does not support the amendment.  He            
 mentioned the impact a toll would have on industry as well as the             
 private traveling public.  Senator Miller wanted the committee to             
 consider the impact of allowing the commissioner to establish the             
 toll through regulation and to also consider whether or not this              
 amendment would fit within the title of the bill.                             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said the amendment would amend the title of             
 the bill.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN noted it had been brought to his attention that             
 an amendment to a bill introduced in the other house is not in                
 order if the amendment requires a change in the title of the bill.            
                                                                               
 SAM KITO, LEGISLATIVE LIAISON, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION &                 
 PUBLIC FACILITIES, stated the department already has the statutory            
 authority to put in place regulations for imposing a toll at the              
 bridge or on a highway.  He noted the department has reviewed that            
 option extensively and it is something the commissioner may take              
 another look at.                                                              
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said his concern is that if the use of the                  
 highway is currently commercial and Alyeska has been taking care of           
 activities along the road now, there could be a significant impact            
 if a toll is charged every time Alyeska crosses the bridge.                   
                                                                               
 MR. KITO stated that was another issue brought up in the study.  He           
 noted the department did sign an agreement with Alyeska that the              
 department will not charge them for the use of the road.  He said             
 the department might be able to collect from noncommercial users              
 only.                                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 278                                                                    
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if the department has an estimate on the              
 number of noncommercial users of the road.  He wondered if there is           
 enough traffic to offset the costs needed to administer a toll                
 gate.                                                                         
                                                                               
 MR. KITO replied in the study the department did, the costs would             
 be taken care of by the toll for the Yukon River Bridge.  He said             
 70 percent of the revenue generated would go to pay for the                   
 administrative costs of the program.                                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN clarified that Alyeska Pipeline and their                 
 subcontractors or people servicing the pipeline would not be                  
 required to pay a toll.                                                       
                                                                               
 MR. KITO said that is one of the interpretations of the agreement             
 the department has with Alyeska.                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN asked what kind of agreement does the                
 department have with Alyeska.  He noted the road was put in to                
 service the North Slope and now it is a state road, with the state            
 maintaining it.  He asked if the state runs graders up and down the           
 road.                                                                         
                                                                               
 MR. KITO explained the road was built with some participation of              
 federal highway funding.  He said there was an agreement that when            
 the pipeline was open to service, the road would be turned over to            
 the state and the state would be responsible for maintenance of the           
 road for the term of the usage of the pipeline.  He noted an                  
 Attorney General Opinion from 1976 reviewed the possibilities of a            
 full closure of the road once the pipeline had been built, and a              
 full opening once the pipeline had been built.  The decision was              
 made in 1978 to go with a regulatory restriction on the use of the            
 road.                                                                         
                                                                               
 MR. KITO said from 1978 until 1990 the Dalton Highway was a                   
 permitted road.  He reiterated the state has responsibility for the           
 road and the road has federal funding.  He stated as long as the              
 road is open, the state can put federal money into repairing it.              
 He noted the road was legislatively opened to Dietrich camp in 1991           
 and was only closed from Dietrich camp up to Prudhoe Bay.                     
                                                                               
 Number 329                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES clarified the agreement provided that the               
 state not impose a toll on the use of the road.                               
                                                                               
 MR. KITO said the toll was not to be assessed against Alyeska                 
 Pipeline as a user of the road.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES stressed that agreement needs to be honored             
 in any regulations that might be adopted.                                     
                                                                               
 (Representative NICHOLIA joined the committee.)                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN asked if the Chairman was ruling the                 
 amendment out of order.                                                       
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said he wanted to get as much discussion on the             
 amendment as possible, so there would be a record of the discussion           
 should the subject come up again.                                             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN clarified that 70 percent of the tolls would be           
 absorbed in administrative costs.  He wondered what kind of tolls             
 would be charged.  He also questioned how much revenue would be               
 generated above and beyond administrative costs.                              
                                                                               
 MR. KITO replied if the toll is only at the bridge, the tolls                 
 collected would only service the bridge.  He reiterated 70 percent            
 of the tolls collected would go to administrative costs and 30                
 percent would go to maintenance of the bridge.  He added that                 
 because of the department's arrangement with the federal highway              
 administration and because of the way the department's regulations            
 are set up, the department would not be able to use any of the toll           
 money for public safety or emergency services until the department            
 fulfilled its requirement to maintain the bridge.  He said the same           
 situation would occur with a toll on the highway itself.                      
                                                                               
 Number 378                                                                    
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked what the toll amount would be.                        
                                                                               
 MR. KITO replied the recommended toll in the study completed one              
 and one-half years ago was $20 for passenger vehicles and $40-$50             
 for truck traffic not part of the Alyeska group.                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT stated that depending on the amount of               
 traffic crossing the Yukon River, the toll could increase or                  
 decrease.  He asked if someone crossed the bridge and went to Old             
 Man versus going up to Prudhoe Bay, would the toll be the same.               
                                                                               
 MR. KITO responded the toll would be the same providing the toll              
 was imposed for the Yukon River Bridge, as the toll would be solely           
 for that facility and not the entire road.  Therefore, anyone                 
 crossing the bridge would be paying for the use of just the bridge.           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the receipts generated by the toll               
 would go into the general fund.                                               
                                                                               
 MR. KITO stated the receipts would go into the general fund and the           
 department would be responsible for administering the toll, which             
 would come out of the departmental budget.                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT felt the recommended tolls are too high for               
 crossing a bridge.  He said he would much rather see a toll at the            
 Canadian/Alaskan border, thereby capturing every individual coming            
 into the state at a much reduced rate.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 421                                                                    
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS felt the committee is discussing something               
 that really cannot be dealt with in the committee.  He requested              
 the Chairman to rule the amendment out of order.                              
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN reiterated the reason he was taking input on the            
 amendment was to establish a record.  He noted Uniform Rule 24 (d)            
 says the amendment is out of order.  He requested the maker of the            
 amendment to withdraw it.                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES WITHDREW his MOTION.                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN made a MOTION to MOVE HCSSB 93 as amended,           
 with attached fiscal note, out of committee with individual                   
 recommendations.                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES OBJECTED for the purpose of discussion.                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES wondered if the committee would consider a              
 letter of intent requesting the commissioner to continue his                  
 consideration of revenue generation as a result of the highway                
 opening.                                                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN said he is a strong believer in user fees            
 but putting the burden of the toll on the individual user rather              
 than on the full use of the road would be inappropriate.  He stated           
 if the agreement was not in place allowing industry to be exempt              
 from tolls, he would probably agree with a toll.                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                 
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any other objections.                   
 Hearing none, the MOTION PASSED.                                              
                                                                               

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