Following the Friday passage of the capital budget by the Legislature on Friday, House Speaker, Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, thinks the Kenai Peninsula fared well.
“I think we’re alright,” Chenault said. “A lot of the issues the (Kenai Peninsula) Borough had put forward and then the different little municipalities around the borough, a lot of their issues were addressed.”
Lawmakers approved about $68.8 million of the $2.1 billion capital budget to House Districts 28, 29 and 30. However, Gov. Sean Parnell has line-item veto authority giving him final say in what projects get funded.
A large chunk of the total for the peninsula, $17 million in federal government money, is going toward the Seward Airport through the Airport Improvement Program. The airport is vulnerable to flooding. The project calls for elevating the runway and the gap between the north end of the runway and the Alaska Railroad embankment to alleviate the risk of severe flooding at the airport.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough is set to receive funding for three of its four identified tier one priorities, although none of the appropriations were matched to the full requested amount.
The borough’s top priorities included: elodea eradication; a Central Peninsula Landfill equipment maintenance building; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system replacement in the George A. Navarre Administrative Building; and Tall Tree Road upgrades and bridge rebuilding north of Anchor Point.
The Legislature approved funding for all projects except the system replacement in the borough building. Elodea eradication received $400,000 of the requested $700,000. Lawmakers gave $708,000 of the requested $1.8 million to the landfill. Tall Tree Road and bridge is looking at receiving $380,000 of the $550,000 that was requested.
Lawmakers also approved $4 million to the borough for general road projects — double what was allocated last year.
“I would bet in the last eight years, we’ve put close to $40, $45 million into the borough to upgrade borough roads, so that’s just the borough roads,” Chenault said. “That money to upgrade those roads, if it didn’t come from the state, it would either come from taxpayers in the borough or the roads just wouldn’t be upgraded.”
Other road projects on the peninsula include improvements to Waddell Way Road in Homer approved at $1.4 million, and paving, rehabilitation and signalization of Kalifornsky Beach Road from Milepost 16 to 22.2 at $6 million in addition to last session’s $4 million.
A few other peninsula projects are approved for funding in addition to state money appropriated in recent previous legislative sessions.
Last year, lawmakers approved $10 million for the Seward Marine Industrial Center. This session another $5.9 million was appropriated for the expansion of the area, including breakwater construction. The project looks to open up the docking area across Resurrection Bay from Seward to entice large fishing vessels to winter in Seward instead of Seattle.
“(The ships) usually go to Seattle because that’s the only place where they can port them,” Chenault said. “By extending this seawall and doing some other work over there they’re able to entice those folks to stay here in Alaska, in Seward, versus going to Seattle, which would bring more jobs.”
Chenault said the project could bring in jobs that cater to vessels such machine and welding work.
Chugach Electric Association’s Stetson Creek Diversion/Cooper Lake Dam Facilities Project is set to receive about $3.4 million in addition to the about $5.8 million that lawmakers appropriated for fiscal year 2013. The project seeks to change water flows that could improve water temperatures for salmon and increase power production at its hydroelectric facility. Construction plans include a diversion dam on Stetson Creek and a pipeline to move the creek water to Cooper Lake. Water from the lake would then be transferred to Cooper Creek via a pipeline. The project, which was originally estimated to cost $12 million, is now estimated at $21.9 million.
“Did we get everything that everybody wanted?” Chenault said. “No, but did we get a number of needs taken care of? I think that we did.”
Some other peninsula projects that lawmakers approved funding for include:
■ $1.5 million to Homer for ferry terminal improvements;
■ $1.3 million for dredging and disposal of sludge at the Lowell Point sewage lagoon in Seward;
■ $900,000 for a new museum building for the Pratt Museum in Homer;
■ $500,000 for school equipment areawide for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District;
■ $380,000 to the Moose Pass Volunteer Fire Company for a new tanker;
■ $100,841 to the Sterling Area Senior Citizens, Inc. for furniture and carpet replacements and a meal vehicle.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.