A recent House Resources committee hearing on the 211-mile Ambler Road Proposal illustrates how prevalent knee-jerk development financing has become in this state, despite looming debt and shrinking revenue.
Measured testimony from engineering professionals detailed how far from reality this project is. Testimony from the Alaska Energy Authority was devoid of hard numbers and instead proposed “about a million bucks” were needed to get through permitting.
Development funds are often squandered across the United States, but Alaska owns “Road to Nowhere” status like no other state in the nation. We fund road proposals at the expense of schools, teachers, law enforcement, road maintenance and common sense.
The current Ambler Road proposal is unique in its zombie mega project status. Despite Gov. Bill Walker’s pledge to kill the zombies eating our cash resources, this one staggers on. Despite assurances from AIDEA that this project will pay for itself, they continue to spend appropriated dollars from Alaska. Dollars that could go to viable jobs and infrastructure we need now.
At this point AIDEA has started a federal permitting process it has not paid for, for a road they do not know how to pay for, to reach mines that do not exist, with the support of contracts it does not have.
If this is the process that our Legislature supports, that our governor supports, and organizations like the Associated General Contractors of Alaska support, then it is small wonder we are in financial crises.
We will remain undisputed champions of the Road to Nowhere and the rank defenders of zombie mega projects, and that will cost us all real money.