Gov. Bill Walker will be in Ketchikan on Monday to meet with local officials about the long-awaited Gravina Access project, and to hold a public meeting focused on Alaska’s economy.
Gravina Island is where Ketchikan’s airport is located along with mostly undeveloped private and public land. Improved access to that island has been a community goal for many years.
At one point, Ketchikan secured federally earmarked funding for a bridge, with an approximately $360-million appropriation. However, that project was canceled and most of the money re-appropriated to other transportation projects. The state still needs to do something to improve access to Gravina, though, to satisfy certain federal funding regulations.
Pretty much everyone has accepted that a bridge is no longer an option, so improved ferry service is what remains. The degree of ferry service, and related amenities, will determine how much that improvement will cost.
State officials in October announced that they had chosen the cheapest option identified in a draft Environmental Impact Statement, with a cost of about $23 million. Borough officials came back with another proposal that costs about $96 million, which is what remains of the original federal appropriation.
On Monday afternoon, in a closed-door meeting, Gov. Walker will talk with borough officials about that project, and other fiscal issues facing state and local governments.
Walker also has scheduled a public meeting on Monday, starting at 5 p.m. at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Rep. Dan Ortiz will accompany the governor during this mid-session visit to Alaska’s First City.