KABATA Board Unanimously Supports Advancing Knik Arm Crossing, Opposes Proposed AMATS Action to Delay Project
(Anchorage, AK), October 13, 2009: The Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA) announces that at the October 8, 2009 Board of Directors Meeting, its Board unanimously opposed a proposal by the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) to delay the Knik Arm Crossing by moving it to 2018 or beyond in its Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and instead approved a resolution in support of obtaining environmental clearance for the project as soon as practical. The voting members of KABATA's Board of Directors are appointed by the Governor of Alaska.
On September 24, 2009, the AMATS Policy Committee initiated an unnecessary and detrimental process to propose an amendment to its LRTP to move the Knik Arm Crossing from the short-term to the long-term portion of the plan - 2018 and beyond. Federal regulations require that any LRTP Amendment made by AMATS (1) provides the effected agencies and communities a reasonable opportunity to be heard, and (2) demonstrate sufficient committed, available or reasonably available revenue sources to pay for the plan (that is, fiscal constraint).
The Knik Arm Crossing is a State of Alaska transportation project with regional and national significance, and 91% of its proposed alignment is outside of AMATS jurisdiction. The affected agencies and communities of this Statewide and regionally significant project include those in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, where 70% of the project alignment resides and 70% of the population favors the project. Yet the AMATS process fails to provide an opportunity to consider their comments and consult with the communities impacted by the proposed amendment.
Additionally, the AMATS proposed LRTP amendment is not fiscally constrained because it fails to demonstrate sufficient revenue sources to fund all of the other listed projects in the Plan as required under Federal regulations. On the other hand, the Knik Arm Crossing is a toll facility substantially financed by user fees and has committed and reasonably available revenue sources that are not in competition for funding with other state or AMATS projects.
Were it not for the proposed amendment to delay the Knik Arm Crossing, AMATS would not be required to update its LRTP until 2011.
Michael Foster, Chairman of KABATA, stated "The KABATA Board of Directors unanimously voted today to oppose any action by AMATS that moves the Knik Arm Crossing Project from a timeline that would in any way alter the pending Record of Decision or NEPA process or delay or deny the project benefits to the public." Foster continued, "We are effectively and efficiently using our resources to accomplish time-critical next steps such as the Record of Decision and associated NEPA activities to move this project forward."
The Alaska Legislature established the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority in 2003 under Alaska Statute 19.75 to "develop, stimulate, and advance the economic welfare of the state and further the development of public transportation systems in the vicinity of Upper Cook Inlet with construction of a bridge to span Knik Arm and connect the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough." Additional information about KABATA and the Knik Arm Crossing Project can be found on KABATA's Web site at www.knikarmbridge.com.