Gov. Bill Walker watches from the House gallery as legislators discuss Senate Bill 26 on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (James Brooks | Juneau Empire)

Gov. Bill Walker watches from the House gallery as legislators discuss Senate Bill 26 on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (James Brooks | Juneau Empire)

Walker still opposes The Road

Gov. Bill Walker has not changed his opposition to the Juneau Access road project.

Reading a prepared statement, Walker press secretary Austin Baird said Tuesday that the governor does not intend to reverse his December 2016 decision canceling plans for a road north from the capital city.

“Governor Walker’s position on the previously proposed Juneau Access road project has not changed, but he remains committed to improving the transportation needs of Juneau,” Baird said.

The statement comes one day after the Alaska Senate approved the restoration of $21.3 million in funding for the project. That money had been transferred out of the project last year, but the Senate’s proposed capital construction and renovation budget reverses the transfer.

The $574 million Juneau Access project would have, under the preferred option selected by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, extended Juneau’s road system north to a new ferry terminal at the mouth of the Katzehein River.

More than 90 percent of the project was to have been funded by the federal government, but that still required the state to come up with about $57 million for construction.

Before Walker’s decision in late 2016, the Legislature had appropriated some $47 million for the effort. After Walker’s choice, the Legislature began considering moves to reallocate that money.

Last week, KINY-AM reported that DOT Southcoast Region Director Lance Mearig, in an address to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, said DOT was continuing its work on an environmental impact statement for the project and would be ready to proceed if the governor changed his mind.

On Wednesday, DOT spokeswoman Aurah Landau told the Empire that account of the speech was inaccurate and Mearig told the Chamber that the impact statement “will wrap up the project and provide analysis should needs change and warrant the project in the future.” KINY has since corrected its article.

The Alaska House of Representatives was expected to release its own draft of the state’s capital budget on Wednesday afternoon. If the restoration of funding for Juneau Access is approved by both the House and Senate, it could be vetoed by Walker.

Under the Alaska Constitution, governors may execute line-item vetoes on budget bills.

Asked whether Walker would exercise that power, Baird said the governor does not comment on budgetary intentions until a bill reaches his desk.

In a separate announcement, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy said he supports Juneau Access and agrees “with the approach the Senate took to use reappropriation dollars to capture the federal dollars necessary to help build the first major road in our state in 50 years.”

Were Dunleavy or any other Republican or Democrat to replace Walker as governor it’s unclear whether he or she would be able to restart the road project from anything but scratch. The final environmental impact statement is expected in August, and at that time, a final decision is expected from the state and Federal Highway Administration.


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


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Rep. Sara Hannan (left) and Rep. Andi Story, both Juneau Democrats, talk during a break in floor debate Sunday, May 12, at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau’s legislative delegation reflects on lots of small items with big impacts passed during session

Public radio for remote communities, merit scholarships, fishing loans among lower-profile successes

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks about his vision for Alaska’s energy future at the Connecting the Arctic conference held in Anchorage on Monday. Next to him is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, invited to Anchorage to speak at this week’s Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy examining energy bills passed by Alaska Legislature

Expresses optimism about carbon storage bill, pondering next steps on royalty relief that failed.

(Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, May 19, 2024

For Sunday, May 19 Assault At 8:20 p.m. on Sunday, 32-year-old John… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, May 18, 2024

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

Fay Herold, a delegate at the Alaska Democratic Party’s state convention, expresses concerns about a proposed change to the party’s platform on Saturday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Alaska Democrats gather in Juneau to make party plans for national convention in Chicago

Peltola, national party chairman among speakers; delegates get advice from protester at 1968 event.

A lamb-decorated headstone lays half hidden in a cemetery section in Douglas on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Shaky deals from past haunt efforts to preserve Douglas cemeteries today

As volunteers struggle to clear brush at historic sites, city leaders say they have limited options.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, May 17, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 16, 2024

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

Most Read