Appropriations bills contain money for Alaska

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- House-Senate conferees working on a 2001 spending bill for the U.S. Department of Transportation have agreed to add $80 million for a couple of highway projects in Alaska.

The money was sought by Sen. Ted Stevens, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It includes $50 million for a new interchange near Palmer, where the Glenn and Parks highways meet.

The funding measure also includes $30 million to replace a bridge along the Dalton Highway to the North Slope that has been of concern to truckers.

The compromise transportation bill is likely to come up for approval by the House and Senate sometime later this week.

Meantime, a huge spending bill for the energy and water projects that cleared Congress on Monday contains about $78 million for Alaska.

That includes $30 million in funding for the Denali Commission next year and $7 million to rebuild a dam that collapsed in the Southeast Alaska community of Kake.

While some of the Alaska money was sought by the Clinton administration, much of it was inserted into the $23.6 billion spending package by Stevens.

The compromise spending bill cleared the House last week and was sent to President Clinton after a 57-37 vote in the Senate on Monday.

Clinton is expected to veto the measure, but not because of any of the Alaska spending. That means it most likely will remain in a final deal.

The largest chunk of money in the bill is for the Denali Commission, a state-federal panel that Stevens created four years ago as a way to more efficiently direct federal money to rural infrastructure improvements.

The $30 million from this bill, along with about $10 million in a housing appropriations bill and dedicated money for replacing leaking fuel tanks, will bring the commission's 2001 budget to nearly $50 million.

The Kake money is to replace the 54-year-old Gunnuk Creek Dam on Kupreanof Island that collapsed in July after heavy rains.

That cost the Tlingit Indian village of 850 people their primary water source.

The dam was declared a total loss, and the $7 million appropriation is what consultants have estimated it will cost to replace the structure.

The funding measure also includes $880,000 to continue studying the health effects of radiation exposure on former Amchitka workers.

The rest of the money is spread among electric and harbor projects.

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