Anchorage Capital Budget Seeking $350 Million for Port Expansion

The City of Anchorage put out its wish-list for funding from the state Legislature, and topping the list is a request for $350 million for just one project.

“The priority is: Port of Anchorage, Port of Anchorage, Port of Anchorage,” said Mayor Dan Sullivan, whose office worked with the Anchorage Assembly collecting and ranking capital projects for the city.

The port funding request is more than every other item in the budget combined, it comes amid steep declines in how much money the state is willing to give Anchorage for capital expenses. In fiscal year 2013 the city got a $250,297,475 for new projects. Last year it was $80,134950.75, down more than two-thirds.

Sullivan admits there’s an element of sticker-shock in the request, but the price tag is meant to give legislators a realistic cost on updating a port serving 85% of communities in the state.

“We’re hoping for a commitment,”Sullivan explained, “over the next several years, if we can break this into several pieces. So, we’ll work closely with our legislators and the governor and see if we can’t come up with a funding mechanism that works for everybody.”

Sullivan and other members of the Assembly are hoping the scaled back plans adopted for the port’s final design will convince legislators that upgrades are not an extravagance, they are a necessity.

Other priorities in the wish-list include the Midtown Transit Center and several road updates to facilitate more east-west vehicle traffic. The current assembly shares the mayor’s focus on funding infrastructure programs, which made for a smooth budgeting cycle this year.

“It was a very good process, you’ll find both the executive branch and the legislative branch, for the most part, were on the same page,” said DickTraini said, vice-chair for the Assembly.

Traini believes it’s unrealistic to expect Legislators to fund every item in the 66-page document, but that at the very minimum it gives representatives a more detailed view of their constituents’ needs.

You can view the full capital budget here.