Alaska requests $925M for transportation, infrastructure
- The Alaska Senate finance committee introduced a $1.39 billion draft capital budget, according to Juneau Empire, that includes $924.5 million for transportation and infrastructure. The state's surface transportation program would receive the largest amount — $670 million. Airports would get $221 million and the ferry system is in line for $13.5 million for maintenance, rehabilitation and certification. The budget plan, according to KTUU, also includes $20 million for deferred maintenance.
- Not included in the draft is $40 million that Alaska Gov. Bill Walker requested for the Port of Alaska, $4.5 million for commuter rail planning, $1 million in community transportation state matching funds, and funds for the Juneau Access project that would connect Juneau to the Alaska highway system.
- The budget is short $280 million, which Walker planned on making up with a temporary increase of the state's payroll tax — an idea rejected by state lawmakers.
Despite President Donald Trump's desire to base federal infrastructure contributions on how much money state and local governments can raise themselves, states like Alaska – and their highway and bridge contractors – are still greatly dependent on federal cash. The federal Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will provide $305 billion through 2020 for state road, bridge and other projects, but that amount doesn't come close to the $4.6 trillion that the American Society of Civil Engineers says is needed to complete all necessary infrastructure work through 2025.
The president's infrastructure plan would provide an extra $200 billion in grants and loans over a decade, but according to the nonprofit transportation group TRIP, state and local governments will have to come up with $1.3 trillion of their own funds to access the federal programs. This allows the federal government to pass on the hard choices about how to raise the necessary revenue for projects.
Thus far, states like California and Indiana have increased driver charges, gas taxes and other user fees in order to pay for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, perhaps resigning themselves to the possibility that the already cash-strapped federal Highway Trust Fund cannot meet their needs, no matter what funding requirements Congress and the administration impose.
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