Legislature(2021 - 2022)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/11/2021 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
01:34:18 PM Start
01:34:48 PM SB74
01:56:58 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= SB 74 G.O. BONDS: STATE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                          
                         March 11, 2021                                                                                         
                           1:34 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Robert Myers, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Mike Shower, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Click Bishop                                                                                                            
Senator Jesse Kiehl                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 74                                                                                                              
"An Act  providing for  and relating to  the issuance  of general                                                               
obligation  bonds for  the purpose  of paying  the cost  of state                                                               
infrastructure projects,  including construction, communications,                                                               
major  maintenance, public  safety, and  transportation projects;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 74                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: G.O. BONDS: STATE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/05/21       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/05/21       (S)       TRA, FIN                                                                                               
02/25/21       (S)       TRA AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/25/21       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/02/21       (S)       TRA AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
03/02/21       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/02/21       (S)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/09/21       (S)       TRA AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
03/09/21       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/21       (S)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/11/21       (S)       TRA AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TIM DILLON, Executive Director                                                                                                  
Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District                                                                                   
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  in  support of  the Fairbanks  to                                                             
Seward Multi-Use  Recreation Trail in  SB 74 to  provide economic                                                               
benefits to local communities.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BECKY LONG, representing self                                                                                                   
Talkeetna, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to  the West Susitna                                                             
Road  Project  in  SB  74   due  to  inadequate  public  process,                                                               
constitutional issues, and concern  that it will adversely impact                                                               
the West Susitna watershed.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ANN RAPPOPORT, Co-Chair                                                                                                         
Rabbit Creek Community Council                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in  support of including the Potter                                                             
Marsh Site Improvement Projects in SB 74.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JULIE SAUPE, Visit Anchorage                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  in  support of  the Fairbanks  to                                                             
Seward Multi-Use  Recreation Trail  Project in  SB 74  to promote                                                               
tourism.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HEDI DRYGAS, Lobbyist                                                                                                           
Alaska State Pipe Trades Local 375                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  in support  of SB  74 because  it                                                             
will spur economic growth.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CLAY WALKER, Mayor                                                                                                              
Denali Borough                                                                                                                  
Healy, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  in  support of  the Fairbanks  to                                                             
Seward  Multi-Use  Recreation Trail  Project  in  SB 74  for  the                                                               
recreational  benefits  to  Alaskans and  to  foster  independent                                                               
travelers.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MELISSA HEWER, Executive Director                                                                                               
Susitna River Coalition                                                                                                         
Talkeetna, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  with  concern  about the  project                                                             
costs and lack of local support  for the West Susitna Access Road                                                               
Project in SB 74.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS BECK, representing                                                                                                        
Alaska Trails Foundation                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  in  support of  the Fairbanks  to                                                             
Seward Multi-Use Recreation Trail Project in SB 74.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
JOSH VERHAGEN, Mayor                                                                                                            
City of Nenana                                                                                                                  
Nenana, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  in  support of  the Fairbanks  to                                                             
Seward Multi-Use  Recreation Trail  Project in SB  74 due  to the                                                               
economic benefits for communities and small businesses.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:34:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ROBERT MYERS  called  the  Senate Transportation  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:34  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were  Senators Kiehl,  Shower,  and  Chair Myers.  Senator                                                               
Bishop arrived shortly thereafter.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
        SB 74-G.O. BONDS: STATE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
1:34:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MYERS  announced the  consideration of  SENATE BILL  NO. 7,                                                               
"An Act  providing for  and relating to  the issuance  of general                                                               
obligation  bonds for  the purpose  of paying  the cost  of state                                                               
infrastructure projects,  including construction, communications,                                                               
major  maintenance, public  safety, and  transportation projects;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:34:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MYERS opened public testimony on SB 74.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:35:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MYERS asked if anyone in the room wished to testify.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:35:46 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM   DILLON,  Executive   Director,  Kenai   Peninsula  Economic                                                               
Development  District, Kenai,  Alaska,  spoke in  support of  the                                                               
$13.2 million  for the Seward  Multi-Use Recreation  Trail, which                                                               
is also  known as  the Long  Trail. He  said the  Kenai Peninsula                                                               
Economic Development District,  a non-government resource, worked                                                               
with  the Division  of  State parks  and the  City  of Seward  to                                                               
evaluate  how to  enhance visitor  opportunities. He  highlighted                                                               
that  the  current  visitor  trends  are  moving  towards  active                                                               
outdoor  experiences for  independent  travelers. The  district's                                                               
goal  is to  encourage visitors  to  stay one  additional day  in                                                               
Alaska to generate  revenue. When completed, the  Long Trail will                                                               
consist of an uninterrupted trail  from Seward to Fairbanks. This                                                               
investment   could  bring   significant   economic  benefits   to                                                               
communities  along  the  trail from  Seward  to  Fairbanks.  This                                                               
investment could also leverage federal  dollars, such as the Land                                                               
Water Conservation Funds, he said.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:36:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP joined the meeting.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:38:36 PM                                                                                                                    
BECKY LONG,  representing self, Talkeetna, Alaska,  spoke against                                                               
the $8.5 million  West Susitna Access Road Project  because it is                                                               
not critical infrastructure. The  project is not shovel-ready nor                                                               
does  not pass  the Alaska  Constitution's legality  test for  GO                                                               
bonding. The  public stakeholder  process and AIDEA  Board public                                                               
process has  been inadequate. This  project has  advanced despite                                                               
opposition,   she  said.   The   original   2014  Department   of                                                               
Transportation and  Public Facilities (DOTPF) Roads  to Resources                                                               
(R2R)   studies   only    surveyed   industrial   companies   and                                                               
governmental  entities.  She  found  the  lack  of  environmental                                                               
impact  determination  as  a  major  study  flaw.  She  expressed                                                               
concern that this project will  adversely impact the West Susitna                                                               
watershed.   AIDEA's    executive   director    disregarded   the                                                               
substantial   recreational  use,   including  hunting,   fishing,                                                               
lodges, and  small mining claims.  These activities could  be put                                                               
in jeopardy by an industrial, polluting road, she said.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:40:10 PM                                                                                                                    
ANN   RAPPOPORT,  Co-Chair,   Rabbit  Creek   Community  Council,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska, asked  that the council's letter  of March 11,                                                               
2021 be made  part of the record. She spoke  in support of adding                                                               
$620,000 for  the Potter Marsh Site  Improvements Project [74150-                                                               
1)  upgrades, including  restrooms  for the  parking and  visitor                                                               
facilities  at  Potter  Marsh.   This  small  project  will  help                                                               
stimulate  the  economy.  She  related   that  the  Rabbit  Creek                                                               
Community Council is  one 38 community councils.  Potter Marsh is                                                               
adjacent  to the  Seward Highway  and the  area provides  outdoor                                                               
recreational  opportunities,  including   walking,  running,  ice                                                               
skating, photography  and bird or wildlife  viewing. She reported                                                               
that  over  150,000 people  visit  the  refuge annually.  Due  to                                                               
partner cutbacks,  rising costs,  and recent changes  in matching                                                               
funds,  the previously  fully-funded $1.4  million project  has a                                                               
$620,000 shortfall.  This project  is shovel ready,  will provide                                                               
construction  jobs  and  positively   enhance  the  Rabbit  Creek                                                               
neighborhood. She  urged members  to include  this project  in SB
74.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:42:50 PM                                                                                                                    
JULIE  SAUPE, representing  Visit  Anchorage, Anchorage,  Alaska,                                                               
spoke in support of the  Fairbanks to Seward Multi-Use Recreation                                                               
Trail,  also known  as the  Long  Trail. She  said that  research                                                               
shows  that   Alaska  travelers   are  motivated   by  mountains,                                                               
glaciers, and  wildlife. Hiking is  the fastest  growing activity                                                               
for visitors to Alaska, she  said. Independent travelers continue                                                               
to  grow   and  provide  a   year-round  base.  The   Long  Trail                                                               
improvements  will   enhance  Alaska's  world-class   hiking  and                                                               
provide   increased  economic   benefits   to  communities   from                                                               
Fairbanks to Seward.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:45:35 PM                                                                                                                    
HEDI  DRYGAS,  Lobbyist,  Alaska  State Pipe  Trades  Local  375,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska,   spoke  in   support  of   SB  74   to  support                                                               
construction  of  infrastructure  projects because  the  economic                                                               
benefits are  good for workers  and businesses and  spur economic                                                               
growth.  She urged  members not  to shy  away from  bonding as  a                                                               
means to support infrastructure projects.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:46:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CLAY  WALKER,  Mayor, Denali  Borough,  Healy,  Alaska, spoke  in                                                               
support of the $13.2 million  for the Seward Multi-Use Recreation                                                               
Trail  Project in  SB  74 also  known as  the  Alaska Long  Trail                                                               
Project. This  visionary project has strong  and growing support,                                                               
he said. This  funding will help build important  segments of the                                                               
trail, which  have been vetted  and are shovel ready.  The Denali                                                               
Borough recognizes the societal  benefits of investing in outdoor                                                               
recreational  opportunities.  These  investments  can  result  in                                                               
happier, healthier  Alaskans and makes Alaska  more attractive to                                                               
visitors and  repeat visitors will  result in  economic benefits.                                                               
The  Denali  Borough  has built  strong  relationships  with  the                                                               
National Park  Service and the  Department of  Transportation and                                                               
Public Facilities (DOTPF)  to help get the  project moving. About                                                               
half  of  the $350  million  GO  Bond  proposal is  dedicated  to                                                               
transportation projects, of  which $13.2 million is  for the Long                                                               
Trail Project that will span  the entire Railbelt. He offered his                                                               
view that  this is a  small investment given the  significance of                                                               
the visitor and outdoor industries in Alaska.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:48:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MELISSA  HEWER,  Executive  Director,  Susitna  River  Coalition,                                                               
Talkeetna,  Alaska,  expressed  concern about  the  West  Susitna                                                               
Access  Road being  included in  SB 74.  This project  is in  the                                                               
preliminary stages  of development  and has  only had  one public                                                               
hearing during Phase 2 of  the preliminary studies. She said this                                                               
project lacks public  support, has not been  vetted or advertised                                                               
in  the community  and is  not shovel  ready. Many  Alaska Native                                                               
groups and  individuals along the  route have yet to  be notified                                                               
that the project was being  discussed. The 2014 Road to Resources                                                               
studies estimated costs at $2 to  $6 million dollars per mile for                                                               
this  100-mile road.  These costs  go far  beyond the  $8 million                                                               
requested  in this  proposal. Further,  the  preferred route  for                                                               
this project  has not yet  been identified. She urged  members to                                                               
remove this project and focus  on true shovel-ready projects that                                                               
will benefit our economy.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:49:40 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:50:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MYERS reconvened the meeting.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:50:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS BECK,  Alaska Trails  Foundation, Anchorage,  Alaska, spoke                                                               
in support of the Fairbanks  to Seward Multi-Use Recreation Trail                                                               
Project in SB 74. This  non-profit foundation has worked with its                                                               
partners for the past several  years to identify $13.2 million in                                                               
projects for inclusion  in the GO Bond funding  for the Fairbanks                                                               
to Seward  Multi-Use Recreation Trail  Project also known  as the                                                               
Long Trail. Investing in Alaska's  outdoor resources will provide                                                               
jobs  and  infrastructure that  will  serve  Alaska for  decades.                                                               
These  projects will  replace  poorly-designed  trails with  ones                                                               
that will cost  less to maintain. People  are naturally attracted                                                               
to  extensive  trail  systems  like  the  Appalachian  Trail.  He                                                               
predicted the  Long Trail  will become  a destination.  He echoed                                                               
the benefits that previous testifiers highlighted.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:53:48 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSH VERHAGEN,  Mayor, City of  Nenana, Nenana, Alaska,  spoke in                                                               
support  of the  Fairbanks to  Seward Multi-Use  Recreation Trail                                                               
Project known as the Long Trail.  He said people are motivated to                                                               
travel to communities for recreational  purposes, to simply enjoy                                                               
the beauty  or delve into the  history in the areas.  This multi-                                                               
use trail will  allow people to truly explore  nature. This trail                                                               
will bring  independent travelers to  Alaska who tend  to support                                                               
small   businesses.  Independent   travelers   buy  gear,   visit                                                               
restaurants,  use  laundry  facilities   and  stay  overnight  at                                                               
facilities,  inns or  bed and  breakfasts. Community  members and                                                               
advocates truly believe that this  project will bring a whole new                                                               
group of adventure tourists to many  communities and it is a wise                                                               
use of the $13.2 million.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:56:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MYERS,  after first determining  no one wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony on SB 74.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:56:58 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair   Myers  adjourned   the  Senate   Transportation  Standing                                                               
Committee meeting at 1:56 p.m.                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects