Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/27/2018 01:30 PM Senate TRANSPORTATION

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01:31:42 PM Start
01:32:02 PM Overview: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities - Southcoast Region Project Update
02:40:43 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Southcoast Region Overview and Project Update TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                          
                       February 27, 2018                                                                                        
                           1:31 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Bert Stedman, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Anna MacKinnon                                                                                                          
Senator Click Bishop                                                                                                            
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
Senator Dennis Egan                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
OVERVIEW: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public                                                                        
Facilities Southcoast Region Project Update                                                                                     
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
LANCE MEARIG, Director-Southcoast Region                                                                                        
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided an overview of transportation                                                                    
projects in the Southcoast Region.                                                                                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:31:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BERT  STEDMAN called  the  Senate  Transportation  Standing                                                            
Committee meeting  to order  at 1:31 p.m.  Present at the  call to                                                              
order were  Senators Wilson, Bishop,  MacKinnon, Eagan,  and Chair                                                              
^Overview: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public                                                                       
Facilities - Southcoast Region Project Update                                                                                   
    OVERVIEW: ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND PUBLIC                                                                
          FACILITIES SOUTHCOAST REGION PROJECT UPDATE                                                                       
1:32:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEDMAN   announced   that  the  committee   will   hear  a                                                              
presentation  from the  Alaska  Department  of Transportation  and                                                              
Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF)  on transportation  projects  in  the                                                              
Southcoast  Region as well  as the  questions the committee  posed                                                              
to the department in previous hearings.                                                                                         
1:32:41 PM                                                                                                                    
LANCE MEARIG,  Director, Southcoast  Region, Alaska  Department of                                                              
Transportation  and Public Facilities,  Juneau, Alaska,  addressed                                                              
slide 2 in the presentation that addressed the following topics:                                                                
   • Response to committee questions.                                                                                           
   • 2018 construction season.                                                                                                  
   • 2017 accomplishments.                                                                                                      
   • Marine Design Group.                                                                                                       
He  addressed   DOT&PF  responses   to  committee  questions   and                                                              
referenced  slide  3, Statewide  Overview:  New  Centerline  Miles                                                              
Added 2006 to Present, and referenced as follows:                                                                               
   â?¢ 85 new centerline (CL) miles of road added, 2006-2018.                                                                   
   • 38 CL miles in Northern Region.                                                                                            
   • 13 CL miles in Central Region.                                                                                             
   • 35 CL miles in Southcoast Region.                                                                                          
He  disclosed  that  the  data reflects  added  CL  miles  in  the                                                              
Southcoast Region  due to a  DOT&PF regional boundary  shift where                                                              
a  new road  constructed  in Southwest  Alaska  was  noted in  the                                                              
Southcoast Region rather than the Central Region.                                                                               
He addressed  slide 4,  Statewide Overview:  New Centerline  Miles                                                              
Added 2006 to Present, and referenced as follows:                                                                               
   • Central Region (2008): Elmore Drive, Tudor and 68th,                                                                       
     Anchorage, 1.3 miles.                                                                                                      
   • Central Region (2013): Trunk Road Extension, Mat-Su, 8.9                                                                   
   • Central Region (2014): West Dowling Extension, Anchorage,                                                                  
     1.0 mile.                                                                                                                  
   • Central Region (2015): Aleknagik Road, 1.0 mile.                                                                           
   • Central Region (2017): 92nd Avenue Connector, Anchorage,                                                                   
     0.3 mile.                                                                                                                  
   • Central Region (2017):  Seward   Highway:  Lore  Extension,                                                                
     Anchorage, 0.3 mile.                                                                                                       
   • Northern Region (2006):   Glacier  Creek  Road,  Nome,  3.0                                                                
   • Northern Region (2016): Tanana Road, 35.0 miles.                                                                           
   • Southcoast Region (2007): King Cove Road, 12.0 miles.                                                                      
   • Southcoast Region    (2009):   Gravina    Island   Highway,                                                                
     Ketchikan, 3.4 miles.                                                                                                      
   • Southcoast Region (2012): Akutan Airport  Access Road,  0.5                                                                
   • Southcoast Region (2013): Glacier Highway Extension/Cascade                                                                
     Point Road, Juneau, 2.8 miles.                                                                                             
   • Southcoast Region (2017): Vallenar Bay Road, Ketchikan, 8.5                                                                
   • Southcoast Region (2018): Shelter Cove Road, Ketchikan, 7.3                                                                
CHAIR STEDMAN  explained that  the Vallenar  Bay Road  and Shelter                                                              
Cove Road  projects  were roads  to resources.  He added that  the                                                              
Gravina  Island  Highway  project   is  the  road  to  the  bridge                                                              
terminus. He  asked Mr. Mearig  to provide additional  information                                                              
on the King Cove Road project.                                                                                                  
1:35:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MEARIG detailed  that road  from King  Cove to  Cold Bay  was                                                              
partially constructed  up to  the refuge  boundary in  two phases.                                                              
He noted that slide 5 calls attention to the King Cove project.                                                                 
He  addressed  slide 5,  Southcoast  Region:  Employee  Spotlight:                                                              
King  Cove/Cold   Bay  Reconnaissance   Team,  Southcoast   Region                                                              
Outstanding Team 2017, and referenced as follows:                                                                               
   • Field work in extreme conditions;                                                                                          
   • Mitch McDonald, Martin Larsen, Greg Lockwood (Juneau), Paul                                                                
     Schaack (Juneau), Russell Ruta (Cold Bay), David Lyons                                                                     
     (Cold Bay), and Harold Kremer (Cold Bay).                                                                                  
He  disclosed that  the  reconnaissance  team is  currently  doing                                                              
King Cove area  fieldwork in the Izembek National  Wildlife Refuge                                                              
to make the connection from King Cove to Cold Bay.                                                                              
SENATOR WILSON  asked if  the new  road in King  Cove goes  to the                                                              
hovercraft station.                                                                                                             
MR. MEARIG answered yes.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  STEDMAN  asked if  new  CL  miles  are targeted  in  future                                                              
MR.  MEARIG replied  that he  will get  back to  the committee  on                                                              
future statewide  projects.  He noted that  the Southcoast  region                                                              
has a  project in  Sitka for  Katlian  Bay Road with  the hope  to                                                              
have permits  ready for the project's  bid for the  coming summer.                                                              
He said  the Northern Region  has started the environmental  phase                                                              
for an emergency access road for relocation project in Kivalina.                                                                
1:37:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN  asked DOT&PF to come  back to the committee  with a                                                              
chart  to show  what  is  expected in  new  CL miles  for  further                                                              
expansion of the state's transportation system.                                                                                 
MR. MEARIG  addressed slide 6:  Statewide Overview:  Results Based                                                              
Alignment   (RBA),  Design/Construction   Costs   at  Award,   and                                                              
detailed as follows:                                                                                                            
   • "Preserve" projects:                                                                                                       
        o FY2016:                                                                                                               
             square4 Northern Region: 17 percent.                                                                               
             square4 Central Region: 9 percent.                                                                                 
             square4 Southcoast Region: 7 percent.                                                                              
        o FY2017:                                                                                                               
             square4 Northern Region: 11 percent.                                                                               
             square4 Central Region: 9 percent.                                                                                 
             square4 Southcoast Region: 24 percent.                                                                             
   • "Modernize" projects:                                                                                                      
        o FY2016:                                                                                                               
             square4 Northern Region: 26 percent.                                                                               
             square4 Central Region: 15 percent.                                                                                
             square4 Southcoast Region: 11 percent.                                                                             
        o FY2017:                                                                                                               
             square4 Northern Region: 20 percent.                                                                               
             square4 Central Region: 17 percent.                                                                                
             square4 Southcoast Region: 17 percent.                                                                             
1:39:12 PM                                                                                                                    
He  addressed  slide 7:  Statewide  Overview:  Total  Construction                                                              
Contractor Payments  and referenced  a bar-graph chart  for FY2001                                                              
through FY2017.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  STEDMAN  said  he  was  surprised  to  see  the  contractor                                                              
payment levels for  FY2014 through FY2017 to be equal  to or above                                                              
payments  from FY2001  through  FY2013. He  asked  Mr. Mearing  to                                                              
interpret the chart.                                                                                                            
MR.  MEARIG   explained  that   the  increased  construction   was                                                              
attributed  to additional  federal funding  and bond projects.  He                                                              
said  the spike  in  FY2015 and  FY2016  was due  to  a timing  of                                                              
projects that were in development.                                                                                              
CHAIR  STEDMAN remarked  that  construction  will probably  adjust                                                              
back down to the  FY2012 era of less than $500  million unless the                                                              
state gets into a gas-line project.                                                                                             
MR.  MEARIG replied  that  DOT&PF has  kept  its contractors  busy                                                              
with projects from federal programs in the $500 million range.                                                                  
1:42:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR EGAN  asked if the added  construction funding was  due to                                                              
U.S. Representative Young.                                                                                                      
MR. MEARIG  answered correct. He  added that the last  two highway                                                              
bills provided increases to the state as well.                                                                                  
SENATOR MACKINNON  noted that over  $1 billion has been  spent per                                                              
year over  the past  3 years. She  asked if  spending is  equal in                                                              
the state's three regions.                                                                                                      
MR. MEARIG  replied that Southcoast  is the smallest  region where                                                              
the  Northern and  Central regions  have  similar spending  levels                                                              
that are  higher. He  disclosed that  the Southcoast Region  spent                                                              
approximately  $100  million  out   of  over  $800  million  spent                                                              
SENATOR  MACKINNON asked  Mr.  Mearig if  the  three regions  have                                                              
paid the contractors on a timely basis.                                                                                         
1:45:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN said  Mr. Mearig's expertise lies  in the Southcoast                                                              
Region  and  asked DOT&PF  to  provide  a  breakdown in  a  future                                                              
meeting on regional accounts payables.                                                                                          
SENATOR MACKINNON  specified that her  interest lies in  an update                                                              
on  accounts payable,  money that  is still  owed to  contractors,                                                              
not what has already been paid.                                                                                                 
SENATOR EGAN asked  if any of the payments that  Mr. Mearig showed                                                              
includes the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).                                                                               
CHAIR  STEDMAN asked  DOT&PF  to  return with  an  update on  AMHS                                                              
spending.  He   noted  that  AMHS   receives  a   standard  annual                                                              
appropriation for maintenance and terminals.                                                                                    
1:48:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MEARIG  addressed slide  8: Southcoast  Region: Results  Based                                                              
Alignment (RBA)  for CIP dollars  to contracting versus  in house,                                                              
and referenced as follows:                                                                                                      
   • Contractor payments: $106.6 million,                                                                                       
   • Consultant payments: $20.5 million,                                                                                        
   • In-house design costs: $7.9 million,                                                                                       
   • In-house construction costs: $7.0 million.                                                                                 
He addressed slide 9: Southcoast Region Overview:                                                                               
   • 96 communities,                                                                                                            
   • 12 boroughs,                                                                                                               
   • 50+ city governments,                                                                                                      
   • 47 Alaska native tribes.                                                                                                   
He  pointed  out  that  the  Southcoast  Region's  boundaries  now                                                              
includes much of Southwest Alaska.                                                                                              
He  addressed  slide  10:  Southcoast  Region:  2018  Construction                                                              
Projects, and detail as follows:                                                                                                
   • 32 Southcoast Region projects,                                                                                             
   • 6 projects continuing into second year of construction,                                                                    
   • 5 new projects already bid,                                                                                                
   • 21 new projects funded and will be ready to bid in time for                                                                
     2018 construction season.                                                                                                  
1:50:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN pointed  out that Mr. Mearig listed  Sitka Airport's                                                              
perimeter  fencing   upgrades.  He  asked  DOT&PF   to  brief  the                                                              
committee on  the Sitka project and  noted that a lot  of material                                                              
has piled  up in  the airport  area. He  disclosed that  the Sitka                                                              
Airport will  fill an area  next to the  causeway to  support more                                                              
room for hangars and support services.                                                                                          
SENATOR EGAN  addressed the Egan  Highway project in  Juneau, from                                                              
10th  Street  to downtown.  He  asked  if  DOT&PF  has a  plan  to                                                              
redirect traffic in the height of the tourist season.                                                                           
MR.  MEARIG explained  that the  project  Senator Egan  referenced                                                              
has not been bid,  DOT&PF is still in the process  of developing a                                                              
plan, securing right-of-way,  working with the city  of Juneau and                                                              
SENATOR EGAN  pointed out that DOT&PF  will have to work  with the                                                              
Mental Health Lands Trust as well.                                                                                              
1:53:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN  asked for  Mr. Mearig to  provide a brief  synopsis                                                              
on the two ferry  terminals that possibly must  compensate back to                                                              
the federal government:  South Mitkof Ferry  Terminal, Petersburg;                                                              
Coffman Cove Ferry Terminal, Coffman Cove.                                                                                      
MR. MEARIG  said he will  get back to  the committee  because AMHS                                                              
is addressing the two ferry terminals.                                                                                          
CHAIR STEDMAN  asked DOT&PF to get  back to the committee  with an                                                              
update. He  explained that ridership  for the ferry  terminals did                                                              
not materialize.                                                                                                                
MR.   MEARIG  addressed   slide   14:  Southcoast   Region:   2018                                                              
Construction-Airports:  Haines Airport  Drainage Improvements  and                                                              
Pavement  Rehabilitation.  He  explained   that  the  $10  million                                                              
project is underway and will be finished the summer of 2018.                                                                    
He  addressed  slide 15:  Southcoast  Region:  2018  Construction-                                                              
Bridges:  Skagway-Replace   Captain  William  Henry   Moore  Creek                                                              
Bridge on  the Klondike Highway.  He detailed that the  project is                                                              
in its  second year  of construction  and costs approximately  $19                                                              
million.  He noted  that the project  is filling  the canyon  with                                                              
roller-compacted concrete.                                                                                                      
CHAIR STEDMAN asked who the contractor is for the project.                                                                      
MR. MEARIG answered Hamilton Construction.                                                                                      
1:56:05 PM                                                                                                                    
He  addressed  slide 17:  Southcoast  Region:  2018  Construction-                                                              
Highways:  Juneau-Glacier  Highway,  Fritz  Cove Road  to  Seaview                                                              
Drive.  He  explained  that the  project  maintained  an  existing                                                              
culvert to  continue its use  for fish  passage into Auke  Bay and                                                              
to avoid added cost.  He said the project cost is  $14 million and                                                              
SECON is the contractor.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  STEDMAN commended  DOT&PF for  the work  they have  done on                                                              
Glacier Highway.                                                                                                                
SENATOR EGAN concurred with Chair Stedman.                                                                                      
MR.   MEARIG  addressed   slide   18:  Southcoast   Region:   2018                                                              
Construction-Highways:   Ketchikan-Front   Mill  Stedman   Streets                                                              
Reconstruction. He  said the 2-year  project is starting  in 2018,                                                              
construction cost  is approximately $10 million, and  SECON is the                                                              
1:59:11 PM                                                                                                                    
He  addressed  slide 20:  Southcoast  Region:  2018  Construction-                                                              
Docks:  Haines-Ferry Terminal  End  Berth  Facility. He  explained                                                              
that the  dock project  is for  the new  Alaska Class  ferries. He                                                              
disclosed  that the  dock project  is in  the $20  million to  $30                                                              
million range. He added that the project has not been bid.                                                                      
CHAIR STEDMAN asked  if the Juneau ferry terminal will  have to be                                                              
reworked for the Alaska Class ferries.                                                                                          
MR.  MEARIG replied  that  his understanding  is  just the  Haines                                                              
Ferry  Terminal  will  have  to be  reworked.  He  specified  that                                                              
Juneau  will  use  the Fairweather  berth  for  the  Alaska  Class                                                              
He  addressed  slide  24:  Southcoast  Region:  2017  Construction                                                              
   • 39 active construction projects in 12 communities.                                                                         
   • Approximately  $200   million   in   active    construction                                                                
   • $55 million in active design contracts.                                                                                    
He addressed slide 25: Southcoast Region: Accomplishments-                                                                      
Airports:   Cold    Bay   Airport-Main   and    Crosswind   Runway                                                              
Improvements.  He disclosed  that  the project  was  approximately                                                              
$13 million.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEDMAN   asked  Mr.  Mearig  to  address   the  Southcoast                                                              
Region's aggregate supply.                                                                                                      
2:01:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MEARIG explained about aggregate usage as follows:                                                                          
     We generally  try to use  material locally available  as                                                                   
     a most  cost-effective means.  On high traffic  highways                                                                   
     statewide,  DOT&PF has a policy  to use hard  aggregate.                                                                   
     Years  ago, our  first hard  aggregate  project on  Egan                                                                   
     Drive  used some  material  from Haines,  that  material                                                                   
     did not  quite meet our  current specifications  so when                                                                   
     we  did  the  overlay  of   Egan  Drive  in  2016,  that                                                                   
     aggregate  came from  the  Tacoma, Washington  area.  In                                                                   
     western  Alaska it's really  hard to  come up with  good                                                                   
     material,  so material  can be  imported from  Anchorage                                                                   
     and other  locations that have  good material, a  lot of                                                                   
     material  for those projects  does come  in on a  barge.                                                                   
     Some areas  of the state we  are limited in  our ability                                                                   
     to get material out to the projects.                                                                                       
CHAIR STEDMAN  said he  was concerned  with sourcing  out-of-state                                                              
aggregate  and voice  his interest  in  sourcing aggregate  within                                                              
Alaska  to,  "Keep  the  dollars   in  the  state."  He  asked  if                                                              
contractors  get  pre-approval  for their  source-rocks  prior  to                                                              
2:04:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MEARIG explained  that the  department  provides a  materials                                                              
quality  specification for  the  bid process.  He  noted that  the                                                              
department  used  to specify  material  sources that  resulted  in                                                              
increased  risk  for the  state,  higher  project costs,  and  the                                                              
process did  not guarantee the  materials' quality that  was hoped                                                              
CHAIR STEDMAN  confirmed  that contractors  do their own  analysis                                                              
that  the  materials  meet  specification   and  then  bid  versus                                                              
receiving specification pre-approval from DOT&PF.                                                                               
MR. MEARIG answered correct.                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP  asked if  DOT&PF has  a good working  relationship                                                              
with DNR in identifying materials sites.                                                                                        
MR. MEARIG  answered  yes. He noted  that DOT&PF  prefers  to work                                                              
with DNR  to have sites primarily  available for  maintenance, not                                                              
construction. He  disclosed that the department is  always pushing                                                              
to protect  its sources  from the DNR  making the sites  available                                                              
to developers.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR STEDMAN remarked  that there seems to be a  challenge to get                                                              
hard-rock-quality  sources in Alaska. He  asked if DOT&PF  has any                                                              
suggestions  for  the  legislature  to assist  the  department  in                                                              
sourcing  aggregate. He opined  that Alaska  should identify  rock                                                              
sources within the state rather than sourcing outside of Alaska.                                                                
2:07:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MEARIG disclosed  that the  department's Statewide  Materials                                                              
Section  did a  study to  identify potential  sources of  material                                                              
around the  state. He disclosed  that Alaska has an  instate hard-                                                              
aggregate  source in  Cantwell.  He noted  that  other sites  were                                                              
identified, but  the sites  are difficult to  get to  and develop.                                                              
He said he did  not know if the committee could  help with instate                                                              
aggregate sourcing.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  STEDMAN replied  that the  materials  information could  be                                                              
provided  to  the  committee  for  future  economic  planning.  He                                                              
emphasized that  he does not like  the state buying  material from                                                              
outside of Alaska.                                                                                                              
MR.    MEARIG    addressed   slide    26:    Southcoast    Region:                                                              
Accomplishments-Bridges:    Haines:     Klehini    River    Bridge                                                              
Replacement.  He  disclosed  that  the  contractor  for  the  $6.5                                                              
million project was Southeast Road Builders.                                                                                    
He  addressed   slide  27:  Southcoast  Region:   Accomplishments-                                                              
Highways: Kake:  Keku Road Rehabilitation,  and detailed  that the                                                              
paving project required equipment and materials to be barged in.                                                                
2:10:19 PM                                                                                                                    
He addressed  slide 30: Southcoast Region:  Accomplishments-Docks:                                                              
Chignik: Public  Dock. He said the  contractor for the  $9 million                                                              
project was  Pacific Pile  and Marine. He  noted that  the Chignik                                                              
dock  won a  2017  "Best  Project  Award" from  Engineering  News-                                                              
SENATOR MACKINNON asked  what the criteria was for  the award that                                                              
the Chignik dock won.                                                                                                           
MR. MEARIG explained  that the engineer for the  project nominated                                                              
the project for  its use of an "OPEN CELL" sheet-pile  design that                                                              
provides   high-load   capacity    with   minimal   sheet-pile-toe                                                              
SENATOR MACKINNON  asked if  the same  sheet-pile design  was used                                                              
at the  Anchorage Port. She  noted that  the same design  firm for                                                              
the Chignik  project  was used for  the project  at the  Anchorage                                                              
MR. MEARIG answered that he believed the same design was used.                                                                  
SENATOR  MACKINNON  asked what  kind  of review  was  done on  the                                                              
CHAIR  STEDMAN pointed  out that  the photo for  the Chignik  dock                                                              
appears   to  show   the  metal   used  was   "raw  iron"   versus                                                              
"galvanized." He asked  if DOT&PF could get back  to the committee                                                              
on how the metal will be maintained for the Chignik dock.                                                                       
2:13:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MACKINNON  disclosed  that she had  proposed not  allowing                                                              
contractors  to  submit  the  state's  projects  for  awards.  She                                                              
opined that when  the state allows projects to  compete for awards                                                              
there is an appearance  that costs go up because  design firms are                                                              
designing some things that might not be necessary.                                                                              
CHAIR STEDMAN  asked Mr. Mearig  to get  back to the  committee on                                                              
the questions that Senator MacKinnon raised.                                                                                    
MR. MEARIG  addressed slide 31:  Southcoast Region:  Marine Design                                                              
Group, and detailed as follows:                                                                                                 
   • Diverse array of coastal and waterfront projects.                                                                          
   • New construction and major maintenance projects at the 42                                                                  
     ports served by the AMHS in 37 communities.                                                                                
   • Small boat harbors, seaplane facilities and related piers,                                                                 
     docks and other coastal structures.                                                                                        
He  noted  that  DOT&PF  has  maintained   a  design  group  since                                                              
territorial  days. He disclosed  that the  Marine Design  Group is                                                              
currently  under  the  Southcoast  Region  that  also  offers  its                                                              
services to other regions when there is a need.                                                                                 
2:16:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEDMAN  said  there  have  been  numerous  discussions  on                                                              
trying to  standardize design for  the state's docks  and harbors.                                                              
He  remarked that  there is  not much  weather difference  between                                                              
Juneau,  Sitka  and  Ketchikan.  He noted  that  every  harbor  is                                                              
different and  opined that  there should be  a way to  standardize                                                              
harbor design.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  MACKINNON agreed  that  standardization  would allow  the                                                              
state to  do more with less.  She addressed ferry-dock  design and                                                              
noted that  one of the terminals  that was built could  not accept                                                              
a certain size of ship.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  STEDMAN pointed  out  that the  South  Mitkof Island  ferry                                                              
terminal was designed for another vessel.                                                                                       
SENATOR EGAN  added that  the Skagway ferry  terminal also  has an                                                              
issue with bow-and-stern loading versus side loading.                                                                           
CHAIR STEDMAN  noted that AMHS will  address the committee  in the                                                              
2:19:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  EGAN  asked  Mr.  Mearing  to  address  "Juneau  Access,"                                                              
[Juneau Access Improvements (JAI) Project].                                                                                     
MR.  MEARIG explained  that  the department  is  moving towards  a                                                              
record-of-decision  which  is  a no-build  decision.  He  detailed                                                              
that the department  has completed the Supplemental  Environmental                                                              
Impact  Statement  (SEIS)  and  has  submitted  the  SEIS  to  the                                                              
Federal Highway  Administration  (FHWA). He  said the JAI  Project                                                              
has an  injunction regarding  additional  ferry options and  noted                                                              
that the  injunction must  be lifted to  complete and  publish the                                                              
record-of-decision, a  process that should be completed  by August                                                              
SENATOR  EGAN  asked  if  the  money  for  the  project  would  be                                                              
diverted to build a school.                                                                                                     
MR. MEARIG replied that he is not aware of diversion plans.                                                                     
CHAIR STEDMAN disclosed  that bridge money was  reallocated out of                                                              
the  Southcoast Region.  He  opined that  the  legislature is  the                                                              
appropriating body that, "Does it to itself at times."                                                                          
2:22:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MACKINNON  asked what specific  criteria either  DOT&PF or                                                              
the administration is  using in seeking a no-build  on a road with                                                              
the federal government.                                                                                                         
MR. MEARIG  replied that  DOT&PF has been  careful to  prepare the                                                              
document   to  meet   FHWA's   requirements.   He  said   repaying                                                              
development funds for the project is not expected.                                                                              
SENATOR MACKINNON  asked Mr. Mearig  what criteria DOT&PF  and the                                                              
administration  is  using  for  its  no-build  decision  with  the                                                              
federal government.                                                                                                             
MR.  MEARIG answered  that the  governor decided  on the  no-build                                                              
alternative  and directed DOT&PF  to proceed  on the no-build.  He                                                              
said the  governor noted that  the state's financial  situation is                                                              
one of the reasons for the no-build decision.                                                                                   
SENATOR MACKINNON  said as the Senate Capital  Budget Chairman she                                                              
is  supportive  of the  JAI  Project.  She  pointed out  that  $20                                                              
million  was  available  to financially  afford  the  project  and                                                              
expressed  her  disappointment   in  seeing  a  project  with  the                                                              
magnitude of the  JAI Project be sidelined for  political reasons.                                                              
She  emphasized   that  she  did  not  agree   with  the  no-build                                                              
scenario.  She announced  that she  would put  on the record  that                                                              
her husband's  family  has acreage  close to  the JAI Project  and                                                              
declared that she has never been involved in the financing.                                                                     
SENATOR MACKINNON  said she is disturbed when  looking at DOT&PF's                                                              
future for  large projects  to expand the  state's portion  of the                                                              
federal  match in  billion-dollar  capital  budgets. She  remarked                                                              
that Alaska will  see a double-digit decrease in  its construction                                                              
industry's value  because the governor has set  aside the projects                                                              
that could  have helped  in utilizing  available federal  dollars.                                                              
She  remarked that  the  governor's single  focus  on a  potential                                                              
natural  gas pipeline  is  a  project that  will  not  be able  to                                                              
utilize federal dollars.                                                                                                        
2:25:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN  asked if the  JAI Project  can be revived  and what                                                              
process would  be required to revive  the project. He  inquired if                                                              
Alaska  was currently  able to  absorb all  the available  federal                                                              
dollars coming to the state.                                                                                                    
MR. MEARIG  explained that  the state has  more projects  than can                                                              
be  fit  into the  Statewide  Transportation  Improvement  Program                                                              
CHAIR  STEDMAN  asked  Mr.  Mearig  to  explain  the  process  for                                                              
reviving the  JAI Project. He noted  that the two big  projects in                                                              
Southeast  Alaska  are the  JAI  Project  and the  Gravina  Island                                                              
Bridge. He  noted that  the Gravina  Island Project was  "mortally                                                              
wounded" and is likely buried.                                                                                                  
SENATOR MACKINNON noted  that there were five big  projects in the                                                              
state that  included the  Knik Arm  Bridge and the  Susitna-Watana                                                              
CHAIR STEDMAN  explained that the two-multi-generational  projects                                                              
he referenced  related to  Southeast Alaska.  He asked  Mr. Mearig                                                              
to detail the process to revive a project with FHWA.                                                                            
MR. MEARIG  explained that  there must be  a reason for  the state                                                              
to go back  to FHWA. He said  the department is not  closing every                                                              
door  by  proceeding  to  a  record-of-decision  on  the  no-build                                                              
2:28:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MACKINNON pointed  out that the Knik Arm  Bridge was voted                                                              
on  by the  people of  Alaska  to provide  $200  million worth  of                                                              
support and  reiterated that  the Susitna-Watana  Dam was  another                                                              
future  project that  was sidelined.  She  addressed Mr.  Mearig's                                                              
previous response as follows:                                                                                                   
     Back  to  the  original  question   on  whether  we  can                                                                   
     utilize  all of  the federal  funds that  might be  made                                                                   
     available  to   states.  We  have  to   have  engineered                                                                   
     projects ready  to go, it's  not that we have  a backlog                                                                   
     of projects  that would qualify for the STIP,  the issue                                                                   
     is  whether   those  projects  are  ready  to   go  into                                                                   
     construction to utilize the dollars.                                                                                       
     Right  now we  have  projects that  as  I understand  it                                                                   
     need  design and  we are working  on those  to create  a                                                                   
     list of projects  that are ready to go forward  but none                                                                   
     that  consume   the  high-dollar   value  of  what   the                                                                   
     governor set  aside and that  is the Knik Arm  Crossing,                                                                   
     which  was big, the  Juneau Access  Road, which is  big,                                                                   
     they  are in  different regions  across  the state  that                                                                   
     would  put  people  to  work   at  many  jobs  that  the                                                                   
     administration has chosen to pause on.                                                                                     
She  asserted  that the  conversation  to  move the  capital  will                                                              
continue  if the conversation  to  allow the  people of Alaska  to                                                              
access  their state  capital is  not advanced.  She said  everyone                                                              
would like people  to get back to work to benefit  their families.                                                              
She  pointed  out  that  the  state's  unemployment  rate  is  the                                                              
highest  in  the  nation.  She  summarized  that  moving  projects                                                              
together versus sidelining them would be nice.                                                                                  
2:31:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEDMAN  asked  the  department  to  address  in  a  future                                                              
meeting the STIP  projects that are ready to accept  money so that                                                              
the money does not have to be sent back to FHWA.                                                                                
SENATOR  BISHOP stated  that  he is  a big  supporter  of the  JAI                                                              
Project and  opined that AMHS could  use some relief. He  said the                                                              
JAI Project will bring down the marine highway's cost.                                                                          
CHAIR STEDMAN  conceded that he does  not know what the  future of                                                              
AMHS  is in  10  or  20 years.  He  said  the state  is  currently                                                              
struggling with getting  new ferries in the water  and old ferries                                                              
out  of the  water  while the  legislature  shrinks  the match  or                                                              
general fund  requirement. He admitted  that taking care  of roads                                                              
is less  expensive versus  a temporary asset  that wears  out over                                                              
50 years. He  said he is concerned  that he cannot stand  in front                                                              
of  his communities  and assure  his constituents  that no  matter                                                              
what  happens  the AMHS  is  going  to  be running;  however,  the                                                              
intent is to keep it going.                                                                                                     
2:33:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  EGAN  agreed with  Chair  Stedman.  He pointed  out  that                                                              
people that use AMHS  are paying for one of the  few toll roads in                                                              
the state.  He pointed  out that  AMHS serves Alaskans  throughout                                                              
the state's coastal communities.                                                                                                
He  suggested   that  the   committee  talk   briefly  about   the                                                              
department's   "public   facility"   projects   in   addition   to                                                              
transportation projects.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  STEDMAN pointed  out  that the  department  has "some  nice                                                              
projects underway"  and referenced  Ketchikan's $30  million Water                                                              
Street Project.                                                                                                                 
2:36:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MACKINNON stated  that  she supports  AMHS and  expressed                                                              
her difficulty in  watching the system devolve.  She conceded that                                                              
the  risk-and-reward   with  AMHS  is  very  different   with  the                                                              
operational dollars  that are being  expended on a  smaller group.                                                              
She admitted that  being the chairman for the  capital budget that                                                              
she seems  to be  "in the crosshairs"  as the  one who  may oppose                                                              
AMHS and emphasized  that the assertion could not  be further from                                                              
the  truth. She  addressed Senator  Egan and  noted that  Alaskans                                                              
that drive automobiles  in urban areas do not pay a  fee to get on                                                              
a ferry  but do  pay fee for  every mile  driven through  a motor-                                                              
fuel tax. She summarized as follows:                                                                                            
     I  just am  very curious  as  to why  we are  so out  of                                                                   
     balance   in  what   we  are   spending  on   individual                                                                   
     Alaskans'   transportation    in   our   state,   inside                                                                   
     different systems  whether it is  the air system  in the                                                                   
     airports  or  whether  it   is  the  marine  highway  or                                                                   
     whether  it is on  roads where we  are getting  a return                                                                   
     for  Alaska's  investment to  the  people of  Alaska,  I                                                                   
     don't  want to  argue over  the  issue of  which one  is                                                                   
        better than the other, but all are important to                                                                         
     different regions.                                                                                                         
2:38:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN  addressed AMHS and  conceded that  Southeast Alaska                                                              
will go  from a  representation  of five senators  when the  ferry                                                              
system  was  established  to  one-and-a-half   senators  when  the                                                              
proposed  gas-line  project  is  completed. He  said  the  state's                                                              
demographics  have changed  where  the demand  for road  expansion                                                              
will  clearly  be  in  the  southcentral   area.  He  opined  that                                                              
Southeast Alaska  will be  put in  a more challenging  environment                                                              
within the  legislative process  as the decades  go on due  to the                                                              
state's population  changes. He added that not getting  a road out                                                              
of  Juneau   impacts  Southeast   Alaska's  future  as   well.  He                                                              
summarized that  he does not  know the  future of AMHS  based upon                                                              
the sheer politics that are moving against Southeast Alaska.                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN asked Senator Wilson if he had any final comments.                                                                
SENATOR  WILSON replied  that he  did not but  noted that  Senator                                                              
MacKinnon accurately expressed his sentiments.                                                                                  
CHAIR  STEDMAN  said  the  committee  will  ask  AMHS  to  address                                                              
members in the future.                                                                                                          
2:40:43 PM                                                                                                                    
There  being no  further business  to come  before the  committee,                                                              
Chair  Stedman   adjourned  the  Senate  Transportation   Standing                                                              
Committee at 2:40 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Southcoast Region Construction Briefing 2018.pdf STRA 2/27/2018 1:30:00 PM