November 19, 2012

Our tax dollars at work - Akutan, Alaska

From Alaska radio station KUCB:
Akutan Builds Harbor First, Access Later
While Akutan’s new airport has received considerable attention and scrutiny for being expensive and hard to access, another large infrastructure project on the island that suffers some of the same problems has mostly flown under the radar.

Over the last two years, Knik Construction has converted what was once a flat stretch of tundra at the end of Akutan Bay into a full-size boat harbor.

"We've excavated almost a million cubic yards of material," says project manager Craig Bauld.

For now, the harbor is mostly just a big hole in the ground. While the construction team has finished its work, there’s still no electricity, no running water, and no floats. There’s also no road from the village, which is two miles away, so the only way to access the boat harbor is by boat. That means the harbor is cut off from the village’s grocery store, post office and fuel dock. Steve Boardman is head of the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil projects division. He says transportation situation is unusual.
A bit more -- about the two-mile road:
Boardman adds that it helped that the project was ‘shovel-ready’ when $29 million of federal stimulus money became available in 2009.

“And in this particular case, we knew a road was being contemplated," Boardman says.

The road is still being contemplated, but construction is at least a few years out. Every foot of the road will need to be blasted from the steep cliffs ringing Akutan Bay. That requires permits and money - lots of it.

“Our first estimate was at $18.1 million," says Jacob Stepetin, the administrator for Akutan Traditional Council, the group responsible for the road project. "But that was when we first planned it. It’s been two years now, so you know that’s going up.”

That’s $11 million per mile. Stepetin says the Council has petitioned the state government, the federal government, and Trident Seafoods for money, but so far, there aren’t any hard commitments.
All this for a town whose 2010 census population was 1,027. It is a port facility for fishing but they should levy a tax on the ships and use that to pay for the infrastructure. I don't see why my tax dollars should pay for it. Do not eat that much fish -- or pork. Posted by DaveH at November 19, 2012 2:04 PM
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