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

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

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

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, stands in the well of the House Chambers with other Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to hear Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., deliver remarks shortly after becoming the new minority leader on Jan. 6. The speech came after a nearly weeklong stalemate by Republicans in electing a speaker after they won a narrow majority in November’s election. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video feed)
Peltola learning the House party is over

Distractions and inaction replace honeymoon headlines as Alaska’s new rep joins minority.

Most Read