Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/09/2017 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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01:37:44 PM Start
01:38:14 PM HCR7
02:16:59 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HCR 7 COOPER LANDING BYPASS TELECONFERENCED
Moved HCR 7 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         March 9, 2017                                                                                          
                           1:37 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Adam Wool, Co-Chair                                                                                              
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
Representative David Eastman (alternate)                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux (alternate)                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION NO. 7,  Urging the governor  to join                                                               
the  legislature  in  opposing  the  selection  of  the  G  South                                                               
Alternative for  the Sterling Highway Milepost  45-60 Project and                                                               
supporting the selection of the  Juneau Creek Alternative; urging                                                               
the governor to  request that the United States  Secretary of the                                                               
Interior initiate  a land exchange  under the Russian  River Land                                                               
Act; and urging the governor  to request that the commissioner of                                                               
transportation   and   public   facilities   and   the   Division                                                               
Administrator  of the  Federal Highway  Administration reevaluate                                                               
the selection of the G South Alternative.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HCR 7 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HCR 7                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: COOPER LANDING BYPASS                                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) CHENAULT                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
02/27/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/27/17       (H)       TRA                                                                                                    
03/09/17       (H)       TRA AT 1:30 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE CHENAULT                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, presented HCR 7.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DAVE KEMP, Regional Director                                                                                                    
Central Region                                                                                                                  
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Answered questions  during the  hearing on                                                             
HCR 7.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RICKY GEASE, Executive Director                                                                                                 
Kenai River Sport Fishing Association                                                                                           
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HCR 7.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
AVES THOMPSON, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska Trucking Association (ATA)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HCR 7.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JIM AMUNDSEN, Highway Design Chief                                                                                              
Central Region                                                                                                                  
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)                                                                       
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided  answers to  question during  the                                                             
hearing on HCR 7.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:37:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ADAM  WOOL  called the  House  Transportation  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  1:37 p.m.   Representatives Wool,                                                               
Kopp,  Claman, Eastman  (alternate), Drummond,  Sullivan-Leonard,                                                               
Neuman, and Stutes were present at the call to order.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                  HCR 7-COOPER LANDING BYPASS                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:38:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL announced that the  only order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION NO. 7,  Urging the governor  to join                                                               
the  legislature  in  opposing  the  selection  of  the  G  South                                                               
Alternative for  the Sterling Highway Milepost  45-60 Project and                                                               
supporting the selection of the  Juneau Creek Alternative; urging                                                               
the governor to  request that the United States  Secretary of the                                                               
Interior initiate  a land exchange  under the Russian  River Land                                                               
Act; and urging the governor  to request that the commissioner of                                                               
transportation   and   public   facilities   and   the   Division                                                               
Administrator  of the  Federal Highway  Administration reevaluate                                                               
the selection of the G South Alternative.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:38:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE CHENAULT, Alaska  State Legislature, as prime                                                               
sponsor, presented  HCR 7.   He explained  that HCR 7  deals with                                                               
the Cooper Landing Bypass.   He said that the proposed concurrent                                                               
resolution has three main objectives.   The first objective would                                                               
be to  urge the governor to  oppose the selection of  the G South                                                               
Alternative of  the Sterling  Highway, milepost  45-60, otherwise                                                               
known as  the Cooper Landing  Bypass, and instead to  support the                                                               
Juneau Creek alternate.   He said that HCR 7  would also urge the                                                               
governor to request that the  United States Secretary of Interior                                                               
initiate a  land exchange under the  Russian River Land Act.   He                                                               
said the final objective for HCR  7 would be to urge the governor                                                               
to  request that  the commissioner  of the  Alaska Department  of                                                               
Transportation  & Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF)  and the  division                                                               
administrator  of the  Federal Highway  Administration (FHWA)  to                                                               
reevaluate the selection of the G South Alternative.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT explained that  the Cooper Landing Bypass                                                               
has been under consideration by DOT&PF  and FHWA for decades.  He                                                               
offered his  belief that  the Cooper  Landing Bypass  project, at                                                               
one  point,   and  perhaps  still,   held  the   longest  running                                                               
environmental  impact statement  (EIS) in  the nation.   He  said                                                               
that  in April  and May  2015 "the  draft EIS  and the  draft ...                                                               
Section 4(f)  evaluation" were  released for  public review.   He                                                               
reported that  on December  11, 2015,  DOT&PF and  FHWA announced                                                               
that the G  South Alternative was the preferred route.   He noted                                                               
that the  final EIS and record  of decision are both  expected to                                                               
be released  this year.   He said  that although both  DOT&PF and                                                               
FHWA  recognize the  importance of  the protection  of the  Kenai                                                               
River  corridor, the  draft 4(f)  evaluation  did not  adequately                                                               
consider the negative  impacts on fish habitats  or the long-term                                                               
environmental threats to  fish and wildlife, nor  did it consider                                                               
the  degradation of  irreplaceable cultural  resources of  Alaska                                                               
Native heritage.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  said that the G  South Alternative would                                                               
also require an  additional crossing of the Kenai  River than the                                                               
Juneau  Creek  Alternative and  the  replacement  of an  existing                                                               
bridge.  He  pointed out that the Juneau  Creek Alternative would                                                               
bypass  all  crossings of  the  Kenai  River.    He said  that  a                                                               
substantial portion  of the  G South  Alternative would  be built                                                               
along the  existing alignment  adjacent to the  Kenai River  - 45                                                               
percent of which is located within  500 feet from the river or is                                                               
a tier  one stream.  He  noted that the Juneau  Creek Alternative                                                               
only has 25 percent located within  25 feet of the river or along                                                               
a  tier  one   stream.    He  reported  that   the  Juneau  Creek                                                               
Alternative is estimated to cost  about $50 million less than the                                                               
G South  Alternative.  He said  that only a small  portion of the                                                               
congressionally designated  Mystery Creek unit, within  the Kenai                                                               
Wildlife  Refuge,   would  be  affected   by  the   Juneau  Creek                                                               
Alternative.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT said that  the United States Secretary of                                                               
Interior  has congressional  approval to  initiate and  conduct a                                                               
land  exchange with  Cook Inlet  Region, Inc.  (CIRI).   He added                                                               
that  the land  exchange could  include portions  of the  Mystery                                                               
Creek unit.   He urged the  committee to remember that  the long-                                                               
term  protection  of  the  Kenai River  and  the  opportunity  to                                                               
prevent major chemical spills  and significantly decrease traffic                                                               
adjacent to the  Kenai River need to take  priority in selection.                                                               
He  declared that  HCR  7  is supported  by  the Kenai  Peninsula                                                               
Borough, Kenaitze  Indian Tribe, and  both the City of  Kenai and                                                               
City of Soldotna.   He said that there  are individuals available                                                               
online  for  questions  from  the  Kenai  Peninsula  Borough  and                                                               
DOT&PF.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:43:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STUTES  opined  that  the decision  seems  like  a  "no                                                               
brainer."  She shared her curiosity  in wanting to know why the G                                                               
South  Alternative was  chosen.   She surmised  that the  G South                                                               
Alternative not only appears to be  more costly but also seems it                                                               
would have more impacts to the river beds.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT deferred to the department.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:44:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVE  KEMP,  Regional  Director, Central  Region,  Department  of                                                               
Transportation  &  Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF),  explained  that                                                               
currently  the   department  has  Juneau  Creek   listed  as  the                                                               
preferred alternative.  He reported  that there would be a record                                                               
of decision  sometime in  the next  six to  nine months.  He said                                                               
that once  the record of  decision is completed the  processes of                                                               
environmental   permitting,   then  design,   then   right-of-way                                                               
acquisition, then construction could begin.   He said that during                                                               
each  of  those  transitions  there is  a  requirement  that  the                                                               
department reevaluate the criteria  that went into the selection.                                                               
He said,  for instance,  that a  land trade or  one of  the 4(f)s                                                               
could  change, which  would  mean the  department  would need  to                                                               
reevaluate  the  selection.   He  noted  that if  another  change                                                               
occurred  between  those points,  then  the  department would  be                                                               
allowed to  go back and look  at the impacts that  may change the                                                               
selected alternative.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:46:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES  asked Mr. Kemp why  there has been such  a delay                                                               
with the Cooper Landing Bypass project.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEMP confirmed  a previous  comment made  by the  concurrent                                                               
resolution sponsor  that the Cooper  Landing Bypass  project does                                                               
hold the  longest running EIS in  the nation.  He  explained that                                                               
the Cooper  Landing area is  geologically very complex.  He added                                                               
that there is an  array of historic sites in the  area as well as                                                               
4(f) sites.   He declared that the Cooper  Landing Bypass project                                                               
has more  complexities than any  other project the FHWA  has ever                                                               
seen.  He said  that there are not only a  lot of resources being                                                               
looked at  on the project but  there are also a  lot of competing                                                               
interests from a wide array of people.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES asked Mr. Kemp when the EIS began.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP offered his belief the EIS began in the 1970s.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES  said that although she  understands complex, she                                                               
is having  a hard time  understanding 50 years of  complexity for                                                               
this project.  She surmised that  aside from the fact the borough                                                               
doesn't want the project to be  developed, the project - for lack                                                               
of a better term - seems to be a "dog and pony show" in Kenai.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP explained  that part of the complexity is  caused by the                                                               
vast number  of different  land owners involved.   He  added that                                                               
there  is an  array of  state  and federal  agencies included  in                                                               
trying to navigate  the complex corridor of highway.   He claimed                                                               
that  his department  loves to  build  things and  would love  to                                                               
build which ever  alternative for the project,  but he reiterated                                                               
that there have been a lot of complexities.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STUTES scoffed  at the  project taking  over 50  years.                                                               
She pointed  out that  a person  could have  retired twice  in 50                                                               
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:50:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  asked whether the land  exchange with CIRI                                                               
would need to occur before  the Juneau Creek Alternative could be                                                               
implemented.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEMP  recognized  that  although  the  discussion  has  been                                                               
ongoing for many years, neither  DOT&PF nor FHWA can get involved                                                               
in the  discussion because it  would compromise the process.   He                                                               
said that the  head of the FHWA for Alaska  was asked whether the                                                               
Juneau Creek  Alternative would be  the choice if  the department                                                               
got  involved in  the discussion.   He  reported that  the Alaska                                                               
FHWA director made it really  clear that FHWA would never predict                                                               
what a  result would be based  on the action another  party could                                                               
take.   He  offered his  best  understanding that  the answer  to                                                               
Representative  Claman's question  would  be no,  because a  land                                                               
trade  cannot  be used  as  a  predecessor  or guarantee  that  a                                                               
selected alternative would be picked.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  clarified his  question by  asking whether                                                               
the  Juneau Creek  Alternative would  be "off  the table"  if the                                                               
land  trade doesn't  come to  fruition.   He offered  his concern                                                               
that  CIRI  might not  grant  the  permission needed  to  develop                                                               
through private land holdings unless the land trade takes place.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP  offered his understanding that  without that particular                                                               
land trade,  the Juneau  Creek Alternative would  be a  much more                                                               
difficult  option.   He opined  that the  land trade  would be  a                                                               
positive asset  for the Juneau  Creek Alternative.  He  said that                                                               
he would follow  FHWA's lead and not predict what  would or would                                                               
not occur based on a land exchange.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN asked  whether - since it  has not occurred                                                               
yet - the alternative could be built without the land trade.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP answered  that it could be built if  that was a selected                                                               
alternative.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:53:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL opened public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:53:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICKY GEASE, Executive Director,   Kenai   River  Sport   Fishing                                                               
Association, reported  that a 15-day meeting  recently took place                                                               
involving  commercial, sport,  and  personal use  fisherman.   He                                                               
reported   that   meeting   attendees  worked   through   complex                                                               
regulations with the Board of  Fisheries.  He noted that although                                                               
there was  little agreement throughout  the 15 days  of meetings,                                                               
opposition  to the  G South  Alternative was  the one  thing upon                                                               
which attendees could all agree.   He opined that through all the                                                               
complexities  and over  50 years,  the G  South Alternative  is a                                                               
solution no one  wants.  He declared that the  Kenai River is the                                                               
cultural,  recreational,  and  economic lifeblood  of  the  Kenai                                                               
Peninsula and  that the  G South  Alternative would  provide less                                                               
protection to the Kenai River  than the Juneau Creek Alternative.                                                               
He offered his  understanding that the G  South Alternative would                                                               
not  be  held   to  the  same  standards  as   the  Juneau  Creek                                                               
Alternative and would offer less  protection to the people of the                                                               
area.  He  surmised that the bypass proposed in  the Juneau Creek                                                               
Alternative would create less havoc  for the Kenai Peninsula than                                                               
the  tearing up  of  the  Copper Landing  Highway  that would  be                                                               
required under the G South Alternative.   He pointed out that the                                                               
G South Alternative  would be $50 million  dollars more expensive                                                               
than  the Juneau  Creek alternative.    He opined  that with  the                                                               
current federal  budget deficit, that  amount is not  "a rounding                                                               
error."   He  shared that  it is  the belief  of the  Kenai River                                                               
Sport  Fishing  Association  that the  land  exchange  discussion                                                               
would be  initiated by  the new United  States Department  of the                                                               
Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, and  CIRI board of directors.  He                                                               
said that  his organization  urges DOT&PF to  look at  the Juneau                                                               
Creek Alternative.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:55:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AVES  THOMPSON, Executive  Director, Alaska  Trucking Association                                                               
(ATA), explained that  ATA has over 200 members and  is a company                                                               
trade association  that represents the interests  of the trucking                                                               
industry in Alaska.   He emphasized that the  Sterling Highway is                                                               
the only land freight corridor  to the Peninsula communities.  He                                                               
added  that the  Sterling Highway  supports freight  movement for                                                               
commercial activities such as:   fishing, oil and gas production,                                                               
construction, refinery operations, and  the consumer goods needed                                                               
for all peninsula  residents.  He noted that  the Kenai Peninsula                                                               
is one  of the  most popular tourist  destinations in  the world.                                                               
He said  that ATA is opposed  to the G South  Alternative because                                                               
it  would keep  the highway  too close  to the  Kenai River.   He                                                               
shared that  ATA has two major  safety concerns with the  G South                                                               
Alternative.   The  first  safety concern  is  because there  are                                                               
thousands  of  tourists in  the  Cooper  Landing area  every  day                                                               
during  the summer  who are  not necessarily  watching for  truck                                                               
traffic.   He  surmised  that the  potential  conflict of  mixing                                                               
commercial  vehicles and  tourists could  be avoided  by choosing                                                               
the  Juneau  Creek Alternative.    He  shared that  ATA's  second                                                               
safety concern  is in  regard to the  hazardous material  that is                                                               
regularly  transported along  the  Sterling Highway.   He  opined                                                               
that the effects  of a potential environmental  incident could be                                                               
greatly lessened by choosing the  Juneau Creek Alternative, which                                                               
would move the highway away from the Kenai River.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:57:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL, after ascertaining that  there was no one else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HCR 7.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:57:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  asked how long  a delay there would  be to                                                               
the project if  the alternative changed.  He  inquired whether or                                                               
not there are  any time constraints on the project.   He asked if                                                               
decisions could  still be made  without affecting  the completion                                                               
date of the project.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP  explained that  because of the  size and  complexity of                                                               
the project, the  plan has always been to complete  it in phases.                                                               
He said that  one end of the project could  be completed and then                                                               
the other end.   He pointed out that neither  of those ends would                                                               
affect  whether or  not the  G  South Alternative  or the  Juneau                                                               
Creek Alternative were  chosen.  He estimated that  it would take                                                               
about four years to complete both  ends.  He noted that the final                                                               
alternative wouldn't  be "set in  concrete" until both  ends were                                                               
completed.  He  said that the department would be  four years out                                                               
on making  a final decision and  then could start working  on the                                                               
right-of-way acquisition,  actual design,  and construction.   He                                                               
concluded that changing  the alternative would not  slow down the                                                               
project.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN   inquired    whether   federal   highway                                                               
centerline  projects   have  to   receive  full   funding  before                                                               
construction could start.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEMP pointed  out that  he spoke  with representatives  from                                                               
FHWA  about the  Cooper  Landing Bypass  project  yesterday.   He                                                               
reported   that   legitimate   concerns   about   the   preferred                                                               
alternative were  raised.  He  shared his belief  that completing                                                               
the project  in portions would not  be an issue for  funding.  He                                                               
mentioned  that  there were  plans  fifteen  years ago  that  had                                                               
funding for a much larger portion of  the road.  He said for that                                                               
project other sections  of the road ended up  being completed ten                                                               
years ago  and a decision  was made  to leave the  Cooper Landing                                                               
Bypass section until now.  He  opined that this section has parts                                                               
on both  ends that  irrespective of which  of the  alternatives -                                                               
Juneau  Creek or  G South  Alternative -  were chosen,  would not                                                               
make a  difference, because  they would  be the  same.   He noted                                                               
that the  project completion date  would be about four  years out                                                               
if the project started operations within the next year.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:01:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked for an  update, in regard to funding,                                                               
on  where  the  state  is  with the  project.    He  offered  his                                                               
understanding  that  the project  was  to  be completed  in  four                                                               
phases.  He asked whether the  state has approved funding for all                                                               
four phases  for the total  project or  if funding has  only been                                                               
allocated for just two.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP deferred to Mr. Amundsen.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:01:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIM AMUNDSEN,  Highway Design  Chief, Central  Region, Department                                                               
of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF),   said  the                                                               
portions of  the project that  fall within the  current Statewide                                                               
Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)  are funded within that                                                               
program.    He  explained  that  most portions  are  in  what  is                                                               
referred to  as "the out  years," beyond the current  three years                                                               
of the STIP  that is actively being worked; the  funding has been                                                               
identified and  is being  tracked in  the out  years but  has not                                                               
been specifically obligated yet.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  offered his  understanding that  the first                                                               
and  last  sections may  have  approved  funding but  the  middle                                                               
section does not.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. AMUNDSEN  corrected Representative Neuman by  explaining that                                                               
what  is currently  allocated  is the  funding  for starting  the                                                               
design.   He added that  it is the  only piece that  falls within                                                               
the  next  two years  of  the  active STIP.    He  said that  the                                                               
following three years after that  is when the department would be                                                               
picking up  the construction for the  first two phases.   He said                                                               
that the follow on phase  that Director Kemp previously mentioned                                                               
is the  part in contention and  is four years out.   He clarified                                                               
that the  design phase for  that is in the  out years of  four to                                                               
six years.   He explained  that the actual construction  would be                                                               
beyond the  current six years  of the STIP  and is carried  as an                                                               
identified need for the out years beyond the six-year STIP.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN offered his  understanding that funding has                                                               
already  been allocated  to  a  couple sections.    He asked  Mr.                                                               
Amundsen whether  or not he  anticipates the approval  of funding                                                               
for the  middle section  no matter  which alternative  is chosen.                                                               
He shared that he is  curious how that additionally available $50                                                               
million could affect other projects on the STIP.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  AMUNDSEN  said Representative  Neuman  is  correct that  $50                                                               
million would have  to be balanced either way.   He said that the                                                               
department is carrying  the larger of the  numbers going forward,                                                               
so funds have currently been accounted.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:04:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES asked for clarification  that the two ends of the                                                               
road are going to be the  same regardless of which alternative is                                                               
chosen.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP answered that is correct.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES  offered her understanding  that the two  ends of                                                               
the road  have been worked  on for 50  years.  She  asked whether                                                               
there  were  any  certain  areas  of  the  road  that  were  more                                                               
troublesome than  others.  She wondered  why it has not  at least                                                               
been started.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP explained  that the two portions on either  end would be                                                               
the  same for  either alternative.   He  said that  before the  G                                                               
South  Alternative there  were other  alternatives  that did  not                                                               
have those similarities, so construction  couldn't start on those                                                               
sections of road until it was  certain which one would be chosen.                                                               
He said that  the Juneau Creek and G South  Alternatives have two                                                               
sections on either  end that are exactly the same.   He said that                                                               
the department could start work  on both ends without deciding on                                                               
a final alternative.   He shared that  FHWA requires reevaluation                                                               
of alternatives  before moving from  one phase  to the next.   He                                                               
explained  that if  anything  changed over  that  time, then  the                                                               
alternatives would be reweighed.  He  added that even if a record                                                               
of decision  is made, it does  not guarantee that the  road would                                                               
be built.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES asked when the  determination was made to go with                                                               
the G South Alternative.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP answered that the G  South Alternative was chosen as the                                                               
preferred route in December 2016.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:07:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  admitted that he  is very familiar  with the                                                               
area in  question.  He said  that one of the  challenges has been                                                               
from  public comment  between permanent  and seasonal  residents.                                                               
He said  that oftentimes  seasonal residents  weigh in  after the                                                               
project   has   started   by   contacting   their   congressional                                                               
delegation.   He surmised that  DOT&PF has really been  caught in                                                               
the  middle  of  the  debate  for  decades,  trying  to  get  the                                                               
community  hearings,   the  notices,  the  public   comment,  the                                                               
environmental studies, and  deal with all the  cultural sites and                                                               
various land  use groups and interests.   He said that  it is not                                                               
insignificant  that  all  the  indigenous  people  on  the  Kenai                                                               
Peninsula, all  the affected cities,  all the fisher  groups, all                                                               
the environmental groups, and all  the land users have signed off                                                               
on HCR 7.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  credited   [Representative  Chenault]  with                                                               
creating   a  well   thought  out   concurrent  resolution   with                                                               
widespread endorsement.  He said that  there is a little piece of                                                               
land at milepost 55 were  the Juneau Creek Alternative would just                                                               
touch the  Kenai National  Wildlife Refuge, and  that is  why the                                                               
United  States Secretary  of Interior  would need  to initiate  a                                                               
land  exchange.   He  opined  that  the  United States  Fish  and                                                               
Wildlife  Service has  been a  little recalcitrant  about letting                                                               
that  happen.   He  surmised that  the  Juneau Creek  Alternative                                                               
would save  users an hour driving  in the summer when  traffic is                                                               
at a  crawl and  probably 15-20 minutes  even for  the year-round                                                               
users in the winter.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:09:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  shared  her understanding  that  the  G                                                               
South Alternative  would [address] traffic around  Cooper Landing                                                               
but would  do nothing for the  bottle neck at the  Russian River.                                                               
She opined that HCR 7 would take  care of much more than just the                                                               
congestion in the Cooper Landing Bypass.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:11:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL   shared  his  understanding  that   the  G  South                                                               
Alternative  would not  bypass the  Russian River.   He  inquired                                                               
about  the  supporters  of  the G  South  Alternative  and  their                                                               
reasoning.  He  asked whether the current  alternatives have been                                                               
in the  works for  the past  four or five  decades and  have just                                                               
been  weighed  for  or  against,  or  if  the  alternatives  have                                                               
constantly been  in motion.   He asked  whether the  Juneau Creek                                                               
Alternative was only recently introduced.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEMP deferred to Mr. Amundsen.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:12:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. AMUNDSEN  said that all  the alternatives that  are currently                                                               
in the plan and  in the EIS have actively been  in play since the                                                               
beginning of the process.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL said  that  he has  heard a  lot  of arguments  in                                                               
support of  the Juneau Creek  Alternative but wants to  know what                                                               
the arguments in favor of the G South Alternative are.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  AMUNDSEN said  that  there are  a number  of  U.S. Fish  and                                                               
Wildlife  Service,  United  States   Forest  Service,  and  other                                                               
interest groups  that are in  equal legion compared to  the folks                                                               
in favor of the Juneau Creek Alternative.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:13:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN asked  Representative Kopp  to reflect  on                                                               
his former  time served as a  police officer and to  speak to the                                                               
public safety concerns in the area.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP reported  that the  section of  the Sterling                                                               
Highway between mileposts  45 and 58 is well known,  in regard to                                                               
public safety, as one of the  most hazardous; the area has a high                                                               
rate  of accidents  and fatalities.    He noted  one winter  when                                                               
there was a family wedding and  half the crowd had to turn around                                                               
and go  back to Anchorage.   He shared that that  section of road                                                               
has been a public safety concern  for decades.  He explained that                                                               
while there are  a lot of businesses and access  points along the                                                               
aforementioned stretch,  there is  no room to  pass safely  for a                                                               
number  of miles.   He  noted  that there  is a  large volume  of                                                               
tractor trailers, motor homes, trucks  with campers, and boats on                                                               
a  very winding  road  with many  blind  curves and  apprehensive                                                               
people  "wanting  to  get  some place,"  and  bad  things  happen                                                               
regularly.   He offered his  belief that the stretch  of Sterling                                                               
Highway  between mileposts  45 and  58 is  one DOT&PF's  greatest                                                               
risk roads in  the state.  He concluded, "For  all those reasons,                                                               
I would  just say  wholeheartedly that this  is a  traffic safety                                                               
improvement."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:16:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  pointed out one  thing that has changed  since the                                                               
1970s is there are probably a lot  more cars on the road now.  He                                                               
offered his  understanding that if  the Juneau  Creek Alternative                                                               
were chosen, then the existing highway would still remain.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN moved  to report  HCR 7  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no  objection, HCR  7 was reported  from the                                                               
House Transportation Standing Committee.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:16:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Transportation Standing  Committee meeting was adjourned  at 2:17                                                               
p.m.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HCR7 ver A.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Document - KPB Letter 10.11.17.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - City of Soldotna Resolution.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - City of Kenai Resolution.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - Kenaitze Resolution.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - KPB Resolution.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - Sterling Highway EIS.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 - Cooper Landing Bypass Reasonable Alternatives Map.jpg HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Sponsor Statement.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - Sterling Highway MP 45-60 FAQ.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7
HCR7 Supporting Documents - ATA Letter 3.9.17.pdf HTRA 3/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HCR 7