Juneau project funding approved by Legislature


View of west side of State Library Archives and Museum that is under construction in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Construction could start on Juneau Access and SLAM could be finished with funds included in the latest version of the state capital improvement projects budget.

The $2.2 billion budget bill was one of the last items considered by lawmakers during the 95-day legislative session that ended on Friday. Just over half the projects are funded by federal money. The rest is a mix of state funds.

“Juneau Access was, of course, approved,” said Juneau Rep. Cathy Muñoz, who is the only Southeast representative on the House Finance Committee.

“The governor had put in $5 million of general funds and $30 million of federal funds. So overall, Juneau came out very well in the capital budget,” Muñoz said.

The $35 million total for Juneau Access may be enough to build a 23-mile road from the end of Glacier Highway to the Kensington Mine. Construction would not start until after public hearings are held on the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and the final SEIS is approved.

I think — not including SLAM — we have $100 million in capital project funding for our community alone which is really an incredible accomplishment.”

(Funding totals $105 million for all other major projects in House Districts 31 and 32, including Juneau, Petersburg, Skagway, and Gustavus.)

The capital budget includes $37.5 million for SLAM, or State Library Archives and Museum. That’s over double what Gov. Sean Parnell requested and it may be enough to complete the $138.6 million building.

Rep. Cathy Munoz

Rep. Cathy Munoz addresses the Alaska House of Representatives, Feb. 14, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Muñoz said legislators decided to fully fund the remainder of the project instead of continuing to parcel it out in phases.

“With the phased projects, there was additional costs that could be avoided if we paid it all off at one time,” Muñoz said. “For instance, with the SLAM project, we were talking about an additional $9 or $10 million that would be needed if we didn’t get the full funding this year.”

From a financial standpoint, it didn’t make much sense to phase those particular projects.”

Work on the SLAM vault is now underway in downtown Juneau and transfer of artifacts from the current Alaska State Museum could start next month. The old facility will then be demolished as construction continues on the new building.

Other significant items in the budget include $9 million to continue exterior renovation and seismic retrofit of the Alaska State Capitol.

A combination of state general funds and cruise ship passenger fees will pay for upgrades at Juneau’s Salmon Creek water facility, while passenger fees will be used for Last Chance Basin Well Field improvements. That project includes installing efficient electrical pumps and replacing the emergency generator’s buried fuel tank with an above-ground, double-lined tank.

Funds also are set aside to replace the obsolete uninterruptable power supply for the state’s primary data center in Juneau that controls state agencies’ phones, email, servers, mainframes, and networks.

“We also had a number of projects including the final piece of funding for freshman dorms at UAS,” Muñoz said. “We also have deferred maintenance money (of) over $4 million for UAS.”

Another $2 million will go to deferred maintenance at Lemon Creek Correctional Center, Johnson Youth Center, Dimond Court Building, and the Juneau Pioneer Home.

About $29 million in federal funds will pay for improvements and reconstruction of Glacier Highway and Egan Drive.

In the interest of full disclosure, lawmakers also set aside $190,000 for a new video server for Gavel Alaska, which is operated by Capital Community Broadcasting, Inc. at the KTOO studios.

The capital budget bill is subject to Governor Parnell’s line item veto when it gets to his desk.

[box type=”shadow”]Major Juneau, Skagway, Petersburg, and Gustavus projects in the 2014 Capital Budget:

  • SLAM – $37.5 million
  • Juneau Access – $35 million
  • Egan Drive rehab from 10th St. to Mendenhall Loop Road – $17.5 million 
  • Skagway’s Captain William Henry Moore bridge replacement – $13.4 million 
  • Alaska State Capitol seismic retrofit and exterior restoration – $9 million
  • Egan Drive Salmon Creek intersection safety improvements – $6.55 million 
  • UAS main campus deferred maintenance and equipment – $4.27 million
  • Glacier Highway reconstruction from Lena to Tee Harbor – $3.5 million 
  • Petersburg Airport apron and taxiway rehabilitation – $3 million
  • Skagway cruise ship float extension – $1.8 million
  • Petersburg wastewater system improvements – $1.76 million
  • Salmon Creek water treatment improvements – $1.68 million 
  • Glacier Highway separated multi-use path to UAS – $1.5 million 
  • Last Chance Basin Well Field upgrades – $1.35 million
  • Uninterruptable power supply replacement for Juneau Data Center – $1.2 million
  • Petersburg Municipal Building renovation – $1.007 million
  • Lemon Creek Correctional Center deferred maintenance – $900,000
  • Dimond Courthouse deferred maintenance – $592,300
  • Johnson Youth Center deferred maintenance – $532,188
  • Marine Exchange of Alaska vessel tracking upgrade and expansion – $500,000
  • Juneau Pioneer Home deferred maintenance – $277,140
  • Gustavus Good River culvert replacement – $107,500
  • Gustavus VFD EMS 911 radio upgrade – $64,958

Some of the items are funded through a variety of sources that include unrestricted state general funds, agency grants, Alaska Housing Capital Corporation funds, federal receipts, and cruise ship passenger fees.

Sources: HCS CSSB 119(FIN) AM H version T, Capital Budget Project Detail (by House District) by Legislative Finance Division 4-25-14 3:04 p.m., and Alaska Legislative Budget Handbook[/box]

Recent headlines