Walker keeps funding for Juneau Access but nixes money for Anchorage bridge

Gov. Bill Walker declined to veto additional money for the Juneau Access Project, but he did nix funding for another Alaska road-building project before signing the state’s new operating budget Wednesday in Anchorage.

Walker vetoed $2.5 million for the Knik Arm Crossing, a proposed bridge between Anchorage and points northward. Opponents of the project have estimated its cost at $2.5 billion; proponents have estimated it at under $1 billion. In either case, the bulk of the cost would be paid by the federal government.

[Analysis: Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signs deficit-slashing budget, but ‘shadow deficit’ remains]

The project was considered dead when Walker redirected funding for it (and several other major Alaska construction efforts) after oil prices fell. Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, proposed an amendment that would restore some state money to the project to keep it alive. That idea was scaled back to the $2.5 million amount that passed the Legislature, but Walker decided against approving it.

Walker did allow a transfer of about $21 million to the Juneau Access Project, which aims to build a road north from Juneau. While a Walker spokesperson said earlier this year that the governor is still opposed to construction of the road, he declined to stop the Legislature from funding it with more money.

Lawmakers last year sent money away from the project after Walker decided against construction. Money was sent from the road to other transportation projects in Lynn Canal and a school in the Arctic. The transfer to other Lynn Canal projects was reversed in this year’s budget.

Alaska’s constitution allows the governor to use a line-item veto in budget bills.

Walker also vetoed $500,000 for a study on the effects of Vitamin D on the health of children and mothers. That proposal was pushed through the Legislature by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer. Seaton is running for re-election as an independent after the Alaska Republican Party withdrew all support for him.

The governor removed a section of the budget that would have redirected money from a street-lighting project in Anchorage to other projects. The street-lighting project is not complete, and the money is still needed.

The governor’s final veto was against contingency language that would have allowed the state to spend more money from the Alaska Permanent Fund than permitted under a separate bill passed by the Legislature.

Pat Pitney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, suggested Wednesday that allowing additional spending would have endangered the sustainability of the fund.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 8

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska judge strikes down state’s cash payments to families using correspondence school programs

Decision will become a ‘hot-button legislative item’ in final weeks of session, lawmakers say.

A statue of William Henry Seward stands outside the Dimond Courthouse in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl more than four years after incidents occur

JPD: Randy James Willard, 39, sent explicit videos to and engaged in sexual contact with victim.

Most Read