Alaska projects get funding in military construction bill

Posted: Sunday, July 02, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The nation's military construction plan is coming together, and it includes money for a variety of Alaska projects.

The plan calls for spending $85 million for a new missile defense radar on Shemya Island in the western Aleutians, and more that $90 million for several housing projects.

The Shemya radar money represents the higher of two figures presented to a conference committee charged with working out differences between the House and Senate military construction bills for fiscal 2001. The House version had provided $65 million, the Senate wanted $85 million.

The House approved the conference committee's report Thursday, and the Senate did so Friday. The bill now goes to President Clinton.

The bulk of the $85 million will be used to start building a high-resolution ''X-band'' radar on Shemya, said Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Ballistic Missile Defense Office in Arlington, Va.

The bill would also provide $44 million for a new hospital at Fort Wainwright and $25 million for a new central staging facility at Eielson Air Force Base.

Housing projects at Fort Wainwright and dorms at Eielson would receive $31 million and $14.5 million, respectively.

Elsewhere in the state, large requisitions include $16 million for dorms at Elmendorf Air Force Base, $7.6 million for a child-care center at Elmendorf and $12 million for a corrosion control facility to treat aircraft at Kulis Air National Guard Base.

The bill also carries a few non-military items for Alaska, including $10 million for Alaska communities hurt by the Bering Sea snow crab population crash.

About $7 million of the money would go to communities affected by the low crab catch, according to a news release from Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. The remaining $3 million would boost crab research, he said.

The snow, or opilio, crab catch fell from 196 million pounds in 1999 to 28 million pounds this year. Low crab populations led managers to reduce the catch.

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