JUNEAU (AP) -- The state House on Wednesday approved a bill that would set up a task force to look at developing roads in mostly remote areas of the state.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Norm Rokeberg, R-Anchorage, said he sees roads as a key ingredient in economic development, and the state has built almost no new ones in the last 30 years.
''Let's build some roads and open up this country,'' Rokeberg said.
House Bill 8 creates an 11-member task force that will look at 25 specific road projects and any others it feels merit review. The projects include a road to Cordova, a road to Nome, a road from Wasilla to Bethel, a road from Ruby to McGrath and a road from Juneau to Atlin, British Columbia.
Task force members are to include representatives from unions, the trucking, contracting and mining industries, the engineering profession, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, the Resource Development Council for Alaska and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Two legislators will also serve on the task force.
Opponents of the bill argued the state doesn't have the money to maintain the roads it has now, and that some of the projects on the list lack public support in the affected communities.
''It's silly to go out and buy a Corvette when you can't pay for the Pinto's repairs,'' said Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage.
The bill passed 30-6. It must still go through the Senate.
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