The Denali Commission wrapped up a series of week long meetings which were centered around infrastructure, electric, and broadband projects. Dozens of Alaskans and various stakeholders had a chance to weigh in on what these projects would mean for their areas. Present in those meetings was D.C. based USDA Administrator, Chad Rupe, who the Denali Commission has been hosting for the week. “What we wanted to do this week was illustrate to Administrator Rupe the unique challenges Alaska has when it comes to undertaking projects of any scale” said Denali Commission, Federal Co-Chair, Jason Hoke. There is a great relationship between RUS and the Denali Commission with collaborative efforts being made in the past and to be made in the future. To date RUS investments in Alaska’s infrastructure have been $160M, matched by a $159M investment by the Denali Commission over the course of the 20-year history.
Midway through the week, the Denali Commission held its Connectivity Meeting at the Denai’na Center in downtown Anchorage. With over a 100 shareholders in attendance, the meeting focused on the Road Belt Inter-tie Project, a large-scale electrical transmission and high-speed broadband project from the Matanuska-Susitna Valley to a redundant loop which would include the Glennallen, Tok, Delta and the Canadian Border regions. The project would provide increased access to cheaper and more reliable energy, improve military communication, strengthen economic development, and greatly enhance undeserved rural communities in the state. Most importantly, it would lead to the further development of critical infrastructure and expansion in the state of Alaska
The one-day event included welcoming comments from Denali Commission Mr. Hoke, with remarks from visiting agency heads and dignitaries, including Mr. Rupe and Congressman Don Young. Representative Young addressed the need to move forward on the proposed 600-mile Mat-Su, Tok and Delta inter-tie project. He stated that this project may in fact be one of the best things to improve quality of life in Alaska after the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
The highlight of the meeting was when Co-Chairman Hoke pledged over a million dollars to the engineering study of the Road Belt Inter-Tie project. The approximately 600-mile project is estimated to cost $300MM and would be built in two phases. The study will commence on or about October 1, 2019. Denali Commission hosting Connectivity Alaska is the beginning of an exciting time for Alaska, where great relationships can form the basis for critical future infrastructure needs.