Alaska’s budget impasse might elicit major transportation infrastructure cuts

Alaska’s Legislature is gripped in a budget deadlock that may produce major consequences for the state’s public service sectors -- especially the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s administration has told all public sectors to prepare for cuts to services and employees in case the Legislature can’t pass a budget in time for the July 1 start of the fiscal year. The governor has even brought in a professional mediator in hopes of making headway in the negotiations.

“We are still hopeful that the Legislature will pass a fully funded budget,” Alaska Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken said. “However, we must have a plan in place so that the traveling public is prepared and understands what services will and will not be affected.”

If a budget isn’t passed, the department would be forced to suspend all 11 of the state’s ferry vessels that act as the Alaska Marine Highway. It also would limit roadside weights-and-measures checks, and cut down on preventive-maintenance projects. The Department of Transportation’s support staff would be reduced to only paying bills and processing payroll.

Some services would continue to operate as normal, such as the state’s international airports. Alaska’s many smaller airports would continue to operate, but with reduced hours. Construction projects that are underway and already under contract would go forward as planned.

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Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities

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