ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Frank Murkowski is laying out a far-flung vision of new roads and railroads across Alaska that he says he would pursue if elected governor, but he wouldn't say Saturday how the state would pay for building or maintaining those ambitious projects.
The projects likely would cost hundreds of millions or possibly billions of dollars, according to the State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
When asked about how the state, facing a fiscal gap of more than $500 million this year and more than $1 billion in coming years, would pay for the projects, Murkowski said roads and other infrastructure are about ''investing in things that generate a return and sense of prioritization.
''I'm not going to be pinned down on the specifics because I don't have to,'' he said.
Murkowski's list of projects is ambitious:
-- A road up Bradfield Canal in Southeast Alaska near Wrangell to Canada.
-- A road linking Skagway and Juneau.
-- A bridge over Knik Arm linking Anchorage and the Mat-Su.
-- A road from the Anchorage area to Bristol Bay.
-- A road to Cordova.
-- Improvements on the road to McCarthy.
-- A road between King Cove and Cold Bay on the Alaska Peninsula.
-- Roads to remote mining prospects such as the Donlin Creek and Pogo gold deposits.
-- A railroad connecting Alaska and Canada.
-- A rail link between the Red Dog lead and zinc mine and Point Lay.
Democratic candidate Fran Ulmer said in an impromptu press conference after Murkowski's that she too supports new roads, but such projects are a matter of money.
''Where is the money going to come from? He proposed a lot of very, very expensive projects. Unquestionably transportation is a key ingredient in economic and community development, but making those decisions about how to spend those transportation dollars wisely is a big challenge,'' Ulmer said.
In the face of huge budget shortfalls and dwindling reserve funds, the state, she said, should focus on maintaining and upgrading roads and other infrastructure in Alaska's population centers: Anchorage, Mat-Su and Fairbanks.
Murkowski has yet to detail how he would fill the state's fiscal gap. He has said repeatedly he opposes new taxes.
Murkowski said Saturday that he does not want budget cuts but wants to avoid substantial budget increases. He also said he wants more effective, efficient and responsive state spending.
But the core of Murkowski's fiscal message has been resource development. His transportation plans, he says, dovetail with spurring Alaska's economy.
Many of Murkowski's proposals -- such as the Cold Bay-King Cove road -- depend on federal legislation or federal dollars. But all the projects would likely require some state action and money, and the state would have to pay to maintain them.
Among the most promising projects, Murkowski said, is a railroad from the coal fields at Point Lay to the Red Dog mine north of Kotzebue. Similar to the funding scheme that built the road from the Red Dog mine to the coast, Murkowski said, the project could be funded with tax-free bonds. The bonds could be then paid off by investors once the mine was producing.
If the project worked and investors pursued others in the region, the railroad could be extended to Fairbanks, he said.
Referring to the state's fiscal problems, Murkowski said: ''You don't sit down and spend 20 minutes trying to figure out whether you're going to take it out of this pocket or that pocket. It has to be feasible.
''We got to think about how we develop these projects for the long-term benefit of the state instead of saying well, I guess we're not going to do anything because we simply are looking at a deficit.''
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