Several communities in Alaska are about to get a boost thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. Senator Lisa Murkowski announced the infrastructure funding and the Alaskan communities that will benefit. A total of 8 communities will split a total of $57.1 million. The money will go to projects such as road construction, dock and service center construction, and bus and bus facility upgrades. The hope of Murkowski and other public officials is that this money will do more than build out infrastructure. It will help bring Alaskan communities together, offer greener and safer modes of transportation, and help create jobs. It’s ambitious work, but residents will soon see the results of these promises.
The Soaring Eagle Transit (SET) line may see some of the most significant improvements. Not only will they soon see a more energy-efficient transit system, but they’ll also see a new maintenance facility. This is the first and only maintenance facility for the SET, and it’s been a long time coming. Before, transit workers would need to make any repairs or maintenance requests to the buses right outside in the cold. This cold could reach as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only did the cold weather create delays in the maintenance, but it also created more wear and tear on the vehicles. Now the indoor facility will provide a heated center, a space for COVID preventive measures, a warming shelter for customers, administrative and operations offices, and three new maintenance bays. All of this results in a better transit system for all.
Other Alaskan Communities Get Significant Boosts
Gulkana Village Council will receive $4.2 million for the operations and maintenance facility for their SET service line. However, many other Alaskan communities will see improvements as well. The city and Borough of Juneau will get an additional $2.2 million to help modernize and rehab their capital transit facility. The Metlakatla Indian Community will receive $402K for an electric bus service running from the Metlakatla Municipal Building to the Annette Islands Ferry Terminal. Another $4 million goes to Ketchikan Gateway Borough for their bus line. This will use hydropower to transition to electric buses, and the money will also help pay for the charging stations. Fairbanks North Star Borough will get $2.4 million for FNSB compressed natural gas buses and compressed natural gas paratransit vans.
Bus lines aren’t the only thing that will see upgrades in Alaska. The City and Borough of Sitka get $7.8M to fund the design and construction of a Marine Service Center. A new gravel road between the Bristol Bay Native Associations will help connect the two communities for $13.2 million. Lastly, the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska will get $22.3 million in funds to construct a new dock and container storage facility in their port.
Together, these projects will help Alaska expand into the future. The best part is that tax payers will not see the bill. These funds come from federal programs. There is no word yet on when construction will begin on some of these projects, but chances are the larger projects will be delayed until the summer months when construction and weather are more favorable.