Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/04/1993 03:40 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  Chairman Sharp announced  the committee would be  hearing SB
  130 (APPROP:  FAIRBANKS-NOME  TRANS. CORRIDOR)  and  SB  131                 
  (TRANSPORTATION  CORRIDOR:  FAIRBANKS-NOME).   He  indicated                 
  that  this  is  the first  hearing  on  both  bills and  the                 
  committee will primarily  address SB  131.  Chairman  Sharp,                 
  sponsor of both  measures read the following  statement into                 
  the record:                                                                  
                                                                               
       SB  130  and  SB  131  are  intended  to  initiate                      
       preliminary  action  necessary to  properly review                      
       and   identify   the   best   options   for    the                      
       establishment of a transportation/utility corridor                      
       from   the   Interior's   existing  transportation                      
       distribution hub to the western area of the Seward                      
       Peninsula.                                                              
                                                                               
       The futures  of those  Alaskans residing  north of                      
       the  Alaska Range  will  require expansion  of our                      
       existing transportation infrastructure.   With the                      
       recent completion by  the State  of Alaska of  its                      
       remaining  land  selections  allotment, the  major                      
       land  ownership  patterns  are  now slowly  coming                      
       together.                                                               
                                                                               
       The  legislation  would direct  the  Department of                      
       Transportation  to  require  aerial reconnaissance                      
       photography  and interpretation.   This  work will                      
       identify apparent land  ownership of areas  within                      
       transportation  corridors  to  be  delineated  and                      
       which offer  the  best cost  effective options  to                      
       access this vast resource rich area of our state.                       
                                                                               
       The fiscal note is very modest and would authorize                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
       that most important  first step.  A step that will                      
       move us toward a more positive economic future for                      
       this large portion of Alaska.                                           
                                                                               
  Number 077                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS  referred SB  131, page  1, line  13,                 
  "(2) an extension of the Alaska  Railroad," and asked if the                 
  corridor is exclusively  for the  Alaska Railroad or could a                 
  private company ask for a corridor from Nome to Fairbanks.                   
                                                                               
  KEITH   GERKIN,   Deputy    Commissioner,   Department    of                 
  Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF), said from the                 
  department's point of view,  the bill requests them to  look                 
  at the corridor and  all potential purposes.  He  said their                 
  view would be  for railroad  purposes and  they wouldn't  be                 
  really thinking about who would be the operator.                             
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN SHARP studied  a map that the committee members had                 
  before them.   SENATOR LINCOLN  also gave the  committee two                 
  maps which showed Doyon and federally owned lands.  She said                 
  it would be beneficial for the  committee to have a map that                 
  shows the  private and village owned lands.  Senator Lincoln                 
  referred to the  fiscal note of  $165 thousand and said  she                 
  wants to know  exactly what areas  the committee is  talking                 
  about before the money is appropriated.                                      
                                                                               
  Number 188                                                                   
                                                                               
  JIM STIMPFLE, President, Nome Chamber  of Commerce, was next                 
  to  testify.    He said  the  Nome  Chamber  of Commerce  is                 
  interested in a corridor  to the Seward Peninsula.   He said                 
  there is also  a house  bill with an  appropriation of  $7.3                 
  million.  He  said the difference  between $7.3 million  and                 
  $165 thousand for  the same  piece of legislation  is a  bit                 
  disturbing.  Mr.  Stimpfle indicated that he has  been doing                 
  background  research  to  try and  figure  out  what ongoing                 
  studies have been  done before.   He said  the testimony  he                 
  wants to  give is on SB 130 as  it is redirecting the amount                 
  of  money to  be divided between  the Department  of Natural                 
  Resources (DNR) and the  DOT/PF.  DNR is engaged  in ongoing                 
  reconnaissance work  to account for  all the lands  that the                 
  state may  own in  the future so  that any corridor  that is                 
  planned takes advantage of the mineral potential, the right-                 
  of-way  necessary to get to those minerals, and other issues                 
  such as environmental  concerns and  the concerns of  people                 
  who live along the right-of-way.  Mr. Stimpfle suggested new                 
  language  and  continued  to  read  his testimony  into  the                 
  record:                                                                      
                                                                               
       An  Act  making  a  special  appropriation to  the                      
       Department of Natural Resources and the Department                      
       of   Transportation   and  Public   Facilities  to                      
       complete alignments, GPS mapping, engineering, and                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
       title support services   for transportation/energy                      
       corridors on state lands between Fairbanks and the                      
       Seward Peninsula;  and providing for  an effective                      
       date.                                                                   
                                                                               
       BE IT ENACTED  BY THE LEGISLATURE OF  THE STATE OF                      
       ALASKA:                                                                 
                                                                               
       Section 1.  The sum of $770,000.00 is appropriated                      
       from  the  general  fund   to  DNR's  Division  of                      
       Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS), for GPS                      
       (Global  Positioning  System) mapping  to identify                      
       route  resources,  viable  mineral  districts  and                      
       adjoining resources along proposed  corridors; and                      
       for  the  State  Pipeline Coordinators  Office  to                      
       coordinate   oversight   review   with  in   house                      
       personal;  and  for   DOT/PF-Northern  Region   to                      
       estimate  engineering  design systems  and provide                      
       special  project  support for  RS-2477 assertions,                      
       identification and plotting of  alignments working                      
       with  DGGS and  the  State Pipeline  Coordinator's                      
       Office.                                                                 
                                                                               
       These proposals  were drafted for your  review and                      
       consideration after consulting with the Department                      
       of Natural  Resources personnel who  are currently                      
       engaged  in determining  state land  selections to                      
       enhance future transportation and energy corridors                      
       for all Alaskans.                                                       
                                                                               
       In view of ongoing budget cuts the State of Alaska                      
       is  facing,  it  is  imperative  that  appropriate                      
       multi-modal  right-of-way  studies be  finished to                      
       ensure   that   rural   Alaskans   have   economic                      
       development options  available while  safeguarding                      
       environmental  and  subsistence life  resources on                      
       the Seward Peninsula.                                                   
                                                                               
       In  general terms,  the  Nome Chamber  of Commerce                      
       supports  a  multi-modal right-of-way  corridor to                      
       the Seward  Peninsula for economic  development to                      
       encourage   eco-tourism   to  view   wildlife  and                      
       subarctic  eco-systems,  to  develop   mining  for                      
       mineral or energy related employment opportunities                      
       for  rural  residents,  with  engineered  designed                      
       safeguards to  the environment and  to ensure that                      
       fish and  wildlife  resources  are  available  for                      
       indigenous Native populations living along or near                      
       the right-of-way.  These are some of the expressed                      
       concerns of the Nome Chamber of Commerce.                               
                                                                               
       It is  recommended that  the Village  and Regional                      
       Native  Corporations on  the  Seward Peninsula  be                      
       consulted as to approximate right-of-way corridors                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
       near  their  lands  to  either  maximize  economic                      
       development strategies and/or preserve subsistence                      
       lifestyles.                                                             
                                                                               
  Mr.  Stimpfle  thanked the  committee  for listening  to his                 
  testimony.                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN SHARP indicated  that DNR  does have a  substantial                 
  amount of  aerial  photography already  available  that  was                 
  taken when there  was a land selection process.  He said the                 
  photos  are  for  utilization  so   there  wouldn't  be  any                 
  duplication  of  costs  in areas  where  aerial  photography                 
  already  exists.   Chairman Sharp noted  that Representative                 
  Foster  is  coordinating  a similar  companion  bill  in the                 
  House.                                                                       
                                                                               
  SENATOR  KERTTULA said  it  has been  an  aspiration of  the                 
  Seward  Peninsula  to   have  a   corridor  and  a   surface                 
  transportation opportunity.  In 1964,  a million dollar bond                 
  was passed to begin a road  to Nome.  He commended the  work                 
  that Mr. Stimpfle has done in trying to make a connection to                 
  Cereniki (Sp. ?), Provideniya and to the coast of the Soviet                 
  Arctic.                                                                      
                                                                               
  THOMAS SPARKS, Bering Strait Native Corporation (BSNC),  was                 
  next  to testify.   He said  he would  like to ask  the same                 
  question that Mr.  Stimpfle regarding the companion  bill in                 
  the House.   He  referred to  the land  status and  said the                 
  final sections for the state have been made but haven't been                 
  prioritized yet.   Mr. Sparks said there  were a lot of over                 
  selections that were made by  both the regional corporations                 
  (Doyon and BSNC) and the companion village corporations.  He                 
  said  BSNC  is  in  the process  of  prioritizing  the  over                 
  selections  as  it is  beneficial for  the state  to receive                 
  information so that the state can own property on the Seward                 
  Peninsula rather than  the federal  government.  Mr.  Sparks                 
  said  there  are  some  concerns  relating   to  subsistence                 
  resources and other  factors.  BSNC feels  that funds should                 
  be allocated to  assess the corridor so that when  or if the                 
  railroad is ever  built, some  of the preliminary  right-of-                 
  ways  and engineering problems are already identified.                       
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN SHARP indicated that the senate bill identifies the                 
  first phase of the project.   The house bill also identifies                 
  the second phase of the project.   He referred to the fiscal                 
  note and said  he assumes that  the fiscal note is  adequate                 
  for the words described in the legislation.                                  
                                                                               
  MR. GERKIN said the railroad is the most restrictive because                 
  it  has  the  greatest constraints  in  terms  of  grade and                 
  curvature.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 377                                                                   
                                                                               
                                                                               
  EMIL PORTSCHELLER stated he is a  resident of Palmer and has                 
  been active in the tourism industry for many years.  He said                 
  he would like  to offer support  for the establishment of  a                 
  corridor.  He asked why there may be a need for pursuing the                 
  corridor   thorough  a   legislative  act   as  opposed   to                 
  researching  a possibility for the corridor and establishing                 
  them  in  the  future  through  conventional  operations  or                 
  functions  of  safety.   Chairman  Sharp indicated  that the                 
  situation  is  funding  and  legislative  direction.     Mr.                 
  Portscheller asked if  there is a problem that will prevents                 
  us from pursuing  the establishment of the  corridor through                 
  conventional  budgeting  parameters established  through DNR                 
  and DOT/PF.   Chairman Sharp  said the administration  would                 
  have to decide  if it is a  project that they would  want to                 
  include in the administration budget  through DNR or DOT/PF.                 
  It would have to be initiated throughout the administration.                 
                                                                               
  SENATOR  LINCOLN  said  the  corridor  would  go  through  a                 
  majority of the  district that she  represents.  She said  a                 
  critical  component  is Tanana  Chiefs  Conference which  is                 
  village  by  village.   Doyon  is the  regional corporation.                 
  Senator Lincoln said she believes it is imperative that  the                 
  Tanana Chiefs be a part of the discussions.                                  
                                                                               
  There being  no further testimony,  Chairman Sharp indicated                 
  that the bills would be heard again at a later date.                         

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