Of the $700 million earmarked for special projects in the federal highway bill passed by Congress this year, $5.5 million in earmarks will be coming to the Kenai Peninsula, according to Sen. Lisa Murkowski's state director.
Mary Hughes told members of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday $3 million has been designated for Keystone Drive in Soldotna and another $2.5 million has been earmarked for road projects in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
What Hughes referred to as earmarks are specifically funded projects in addition to the $426 million the state receives annually for road work.
Hughes gave the business leaders an update on items being discussed in the U.S. Senate, including the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice post, an examination of government's response to portions of the country hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the federal Energy Bill, military base closures and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"I think Judge Roberts will be confirmed this week," Hughes said.
She also predicted the amendment opening ANWR to drilling "is supposed to be marked up Oct. 19."
Hughes said Murkowski's office believes 52 senators are lined up in favor of the controversial drilling plan, and said, "Fifty percent of the people in the United States feel we should go forward with this development.
"It's nice we have a lot of the country coming around to our belief," she said.
She also said she feels the federal energy bill "affords the nation more independence, instead of being dependent on foreign oil."
Hughes, who has been Murkowski's state director since May 19, told the business people she is originally from Kodiak, and as an Alaskan, she believes, "One of the greatest strengths we all have as Alaskans is our connectivity.
"We have great passion and commitment and dedication to the task," she said.
"Sen. Murkowski has a great passion and dedication," Hughes said.
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