Last week, US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernández to announce more than $285 million in federal funds from the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Law (IIJA) for the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) for operations, vessel acquisition, coastal infrastructure and environmental impact reduction.
Alaska funding accounts for nearly 75 percent of the awards announced nationwide. This is the first round under the newly established IIJA Electric or Low Emission Ferry Pilot Program and Rural Communities Ferry Service Program, which Senator Murkowski created and prioritized as lead author of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Additional funding must be available in each of the next three fiscal years.
- “I want to especially recognize and thank Senator Murkowski. Senator Murkowski was instrumental in getting these provisions into law. She is a champion of passenger ferry service, especially in rural communities, and is a big part of the reason we have this bipartisan infrastructure bill in the first place, which has allowed our administration to support bridges, highways, ferries , airports, ports, and more.”
- “Many people, when they think of transportation, they are more likely to think of trains and automobiles, but for many communities, including the 35 communities along Alaska Marine Highway, where everything is more spaced out, where transportation is very expensive, waterways are essential and part of everyday life. The six Alaska grants we’re discussing today will help replace aging boats, help improve docks, and help improve service. They will better connect people with the resources and opportunities in the vital services that they have.”
- “These projects are going to advance many of our key goals when it comes to infrastructure policy, jobs and economic growth because they are connecting people in more dispersed areas with jobs and opportunities in inner cities than ever before. otherwise they could not achieve. ; accessibility and equity because waterways connect rural towns and Alaska Native communities with schools, doctors, and other vital resources; and addressing the climate because electric ferries mean cleaner air, less pollution, and fewer emissions. So it really makes it a win-win-win…”
- “The bipartisan infrastructure bill is important in many ways. For a state like Alaska that is somewhat unique in our limited infrastructure in that we don’t have roads that cross the entire state, we are a state that is highly dependent on our airports and waterways. And so through the benefits of the infrastructure bill, we’ve seen strong support for our small airports, that’s going to make a difference, but what’s so key within this infrastructure bill? What is really monumental? , big business in Alaska, is being able to connect our coastal communities over the water.”
- “Over the years, for decades, we have relied on our Alaska Marine Highway System with currently 35 different ports along the Marine Highway System route. This covers an area of 35,000 miles… We are a state comprising a land mass equal to 1/5 of the United States. So the way we connect is perhaps very different than in the lower 48. So I appreciate that the administration and my colleagues recognize that for Alaska, the way we connect may look a little different and the value then to the Alaska Marine Highway System. So you’re right in acknowledging that you really did have the Alaska System in mind when we were working on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I worked hard to create this Rural Communities Ferry Service Program.”
- “It has been important to us to be able to communicate with our State Legislature, our State Administration and the Governor to reinforce the opportunity we have now to put the Alaska Marine Highway System on a sustainable footing for the future, and the benefits it will provide to these communities, the economies that it would help, the families that it would help, the towns that would be able to connect again. As well as ensuring that by modernizing and upgrading and moving towards opportunities for electric ferries, we are also working to reduce our emissions.”
- “This is great news. For our infrastructure, but also for the economic future of our state going forward.”
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