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  6.  | Four Alaska Transportation Projects Split $25M in Federal RAISE Grants

Four Alaska Transportation Projects Split $25M in Federal RAISE Grants

Jul 5, 2023 | Construction, Government, News, Transportation

The Douglas Bridge, built in 1980 to replace the original 1935 bridge connecting gold mines on Douglas Island with the mainland, is currently the only crossing of Gastineau Channel.

Gillfoto | Flickr

Four transportation infrastructure projects in Alaska are receiving federal grants for design and planning, including a second bridge from Juneau to Douglas Island.

RAISE Funding

The grants are from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which was expanded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Alaska gets nearly $25 million of the $2.2 billion distribution to 162 projects in all fifty states. The money goes to the City and Borough of Juneau, the Organized Village of Kake, Bristol Bay Native Association, and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF).

The Juneau Douglas North Crossing Project gets $16.5 million toward an estimated final cost of $17.3 million. The RAISE grant pays for final design and document development of a new bridge to provide a more direct route across Gastineau Channel between the capital city’s two population centers. The new bridge is meant to improve intermodal freight mobility, tourism opportunities, and a more efficient bus loop. With a significant portion of island traffic switching to the new bridge, the existing bridge will experience less maintenance burden. Environmental sustainability will be addressed by designing corrections for more than forty culverts that are currently inhibiting fish passage.

A $10 million RAISE grant goes to complete the planning and design for roadway improvements between Kake and Petersburg. Improvements include resurfacing approximately 2.7 miles of existing aggregate surfaced road, reconditioning and resurfacing approximately 43.5 miles of existing unimproved roads, and constructing approximately 7 miles of new road. The improved roads will allow emergency vehicles to better access communities and existing medical facilities, where the only current access is through medevac flight services.

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A proposed inter-village road in the Bristol Bay area gets $380,000 for planning and preliminary engineering. The Koliganek to Aleknagik Road would stretch 110 miles and also connect to Ekwok and New Stuyahok. This phase of the project includes evaluation of geotechnical, civil, land ownership, and environmental requirements and will result in a preliminary geotechnical report, an economic analysis, and an environmental assessment. By introducing a new means of year-round transportation to isolated communities, this project intends to reduce fatalities by significantly reducing emergency vehicle response time and creating reliable ground transportation during significant weather events. The new roads improve connectivity and by providing the ability to move freight year-round. The project will collaborate with the Nuyakuk River Hydroelectric facility to provide access for the project.

For a prioritized list of capital projects all across Alaska, DOT&PF gets $934,867 for a Statewide Equitable Community Connectivity Action Plan (SECCAP). By identifying projects that align with the National Roadway Safety Strategy, the SECCAP will evaluate existing and potential barriers to transportation connectivity and availability of affordable transportation options and identify opportunities to improve freight mobility and tourism.

Visions for New Infrastructure

The map shows a section of Kupreanof Island between Kake and Petersburg, where a $10 million grant goes toward planning 7 miles of new road and other improvements.

US Department of Transportation

Half of this year’s RAISE funding goes to rural areas, half to urban; all four Alaska projects are classified as rural, even the Juneau bridge. The largest grants for any individual projects are $25 million.

“We are helping communities in every state across the country realize their visions for new infrastructure projects,” says US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This round of RAISE grants is helping create a new generation of good-paying jobs in rural and urban communities alike, with projects whose benefits will include improving safety, fighting climate change, advancing equity, strengthening our supply chain, and more.”

Seventy percent of the grants are going to projects in regions defined as an Area of Persistent Poverty or a Historically Disadvantaged Community—and the grant for SECCAP classifies “Statewide, AK” as both. The eligibility requirements of RAISE allow project sponsors to obtain funding for projects that are harder to support through other federal grant programs.

Like last year, demand for RAISE funding was higher than available funds. This year, $15 billion worth of funding was requested for the $2.3 billion available.

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