Knik Arm Bridge takes steps forward


by Jessica Gruenling

ANCHORAGE, Ak-- Last week House Bill 23, which provides the legal framework to move the Knik Arm Bridge from a public- private partnership to a publickly finance project, took a big step forward as it was it pass out of the Senate Finance Committee.

With a 5 to 1 vote the Senate Finance Committe passed HB 23, but with some modifications.

"The modifications were to just make sure had all our financing in place before we move forward. And then another bill is we have a separate bonding authority, so that we come back to legislature if we want to expand the project after its built," Shannon McCArthy, Government and Public Affairs, KABATA.

As to what the new financial plan looks like.

The bridge will cost an estimated 782 million dollars with a contingency budget of nearly 900 million dollars.

One third will come from bonds, another from the national high way system, and the last portion from the TIFIA loan.

"We feel like the extra time that we took having the bill held over during the interim really provided us an opportunity to really clarify a lot for finances that they had," McCarthy.

McCarthy says the bridge will not only provide a second route out of ANchorage and the Mat-Su, but will also have a positive economic impact on the community.

"One of the things that has been out in the public right now is the housing crunch that Anchorage people are under with the limited single family homes for young people moving up, so this would provide access to a lot of developable land," McCarthy.

And the Mat-Su Borough has already developed several proposed town sites.

"So they're ready for the influx of population when the bridge is built, so I think that would relieve a lot of the needs here in anchorage," McCarthy.

But people are still expressing concerns about  such a large project.

"People are always concerned when there's a large project because it has impacts on neighborhoods, it also has fiscal impacts," McCarthy.

McCarthy says even with some concerns expressed it's a very positive project with benefits for the whole state.

KABATA feels very optimistic for the outcome of the bill this year.