Shannon McCarthy, spokesperson for the entity, says permit applications and right of way acquisition on the Anchorage side of the proposed bridge are in sight
“We’ve been working on the right-of-way acquisition throughout the year,” McCarthy said. “We have three private parcels acquired and we have an agreement on the fourth on the Government Hill side – the Anchorage side.”
“And then on the Mat-Su side, we actually have the small sliver from a private parcel, and that’s been acquired; and then we’re actively working with the Mat-Su Borough and the University of Alaska.”
The meeting at the Menard Sports Center was primarily informational.
McCarthy says the U.S. Coast Guard has finished taking public comment on a permit dealing with navigability issues.
“We are making a lot of progress on our permits too, and we’re expecting to hear back regarding the Corps. of Engineers permit before the end of the year,” she said.
The proposed bridge has to be high enough to allow boat traffic underneath, but low enough so it does not interfere with U.S. Air Force planes landing at JBER.
“It doesn’t necessarily make a difference if the F-16s come or they don’t come,” McCarthy said. “We just need to have that bridge in its design in the right spot so it satisfies both the Coast Guard needs and the military needs.”
McCarthy says bridge traffic on the Mat-Su side will feed into either Knik-Goose Bay Road or onto Burma Road – a gravel road not meant for heavy traffic. Knik Goose Bay road is rated one of the most congested and dangerous in the state. She says the state is planning a Knik-Goose Bay upgrade.
McCarthy says construction could start are early as 2014 or 2015, and it will take about four years to construct the bridge.
At the end of the last legislative session, however, the Senate Finance Committee stalled legislation that would have created a state reserve to pay for bridge costs if tolls do not match projections.
Bob French, an Anchorage opponent of the bridge plan, says KABATA‘s financial plan is not realistic, because it depends on a federal loan that may not come through for the project.
In June, KABATA hired consulting firm Cardno Inc. to review the bridge project financial plan in light of updated information.