Federal Government Freezes DOT FY 2024-2027 New Project Funding

 Copper River Country Journal Exclusive  No New DOT Projects Can Be Started In 2024 Alaska's Funding Plan For FY2024-2027 Not Approved  ...

 Copper River Country Journal Exclusive 

No New DOT Projects Can Be Started In 2024
Alaska's Funding Plan For FY2024-2027 Not Approved 

DOT Road Project In Summer Of 2023 (Photo, Country Journal) 

December 5th, 2023

All funding has been temporarily frozen for new Alaska DOT state highway projects from FY 2024 through FY 2027. (Approval could be granted by March 31st.) 

This came to the attention of the Country Journal several days ago, when Grist, a national news organization, wrote an extensive story about the village of Tetlin, its internal land issues – and plans to truck ore on three Alaska highways. 

SEE GRIST STORY HERE

The Copper River Country Journal requested further information from Jackson Fox of Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation Planning. Was this true that the highway funds were now frozen? 

On December 5th, he wrote the Journal the following, confirming that funds have been frozen for 2024 and onward. (He added that funds for ongoing projects will continue.)

Letter To Journal December 5th, 2023 from Jackson Fox, of Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation Planning:  

"DOT was operating under an FHWA-approved highway funding plan (STIP) for FFY2020-23 that expired on September 30, 2023 (end of Federal fiscal year). Prior to that expiration the DOT is supposed to get FHWA approval on a new funding plan for FFY2024-27 (which would take effect October 1, 2023 at start of the new Federal fiscal year). Provided the recent issue (2 bridges in Fairbanks and 4 other projects in Anchorage that were not included in our MPOs’ local transportation plans), FHWA would not approve their new funding plan for FFY2024-27 until these projects are removed or otherwise resolved. FHWA has granted DOT a 6-month extension (effective October 1) on the approval of the FFY2020-23 funding plan so existing projects they are working on (from 2023 and prior) can still move forward, but since there is no approved funding plan for FFY2024-27 no new projects can be started in 2024 because the 2024 project list and funding has not yet been approved by FHWA; hence the STIP is “frozen” at this time."

The Country Journal asked Jackson Fox about three bridges on the Alaska Highway between Tok and Delta and which bridges in Fairbanks had not been included in the submitted plan.

He answered: 

"The three bridges (Robertson, Gerstle, and Johnson River) located on the Alaska Highway were included in the FFY24-27 STIP and are not of concern to FHWA to my knowledge.

"In our area (Fairbanks/North Pole), two bridge projects (Steese/Chena Hot Springs and Richardson Hwy/Flood Control) of concern were included in the FFY24-27 STIP but are not in our local transportation plans. And yes, these two bridges are located on the Kinross trucking route."

The Grist story had summed it up this way: 

The DOT did not follow the necessary procedures and public process for adding these bridge replacements to the statewide transportation plan. As a result, this fall, the Federal Highway Administration told the agency to remove them — and froze federal funds for 2024 highway projects for the entire state until this is resolved. “This is extremely rare that a state DOT has ever been in this situation,” said Jackson Fox, executive director of Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation Planning. “It’s a pretty significant issue.”

Highways are very important to all Alaskans who live along the road systems.

Alaska is a highway-based state, and thousands of miles of two-lane roads link the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks to Canada, each other and the Kenai. There are at least 60 different small villages and communities along the roads, dependent on intact bridges, plowed highways, regular road repair and straightening, and pothole repair to get to urban services. 

Editor's Note: "DOT" means "Department of Transportation." "FHWA" means "Federal Highway Administration." "FFY" means "Federal Fiscal Year." "STIP" means "Alaska Statewide Transportation Improvement Program" -- which is the state's multi-year program for transportation system preservation and development, and includes interstate, state and local highways, bridges, ferries and public transportation, but doesn't include airports or non-ferry related ports and harbors. "MPO" means "Metropolitan Planning Organization." 




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