(JUNEAU, Alaska) – Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) Commissioner Marc Luiken announced today that ADOT&PF is working with the Department of Law (DOL) to analyze the potential effects of a government shutdown.
The following programs and services are potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a fully funded budget before July 1:
– Alaska Marine Highway System: There are 10 AMHS vessels that provide passenger service to 35 communities. Residents in these communities may not be able to travel and receive needed groceries and supplies. A variety of industries that rely on AMHS services, such as fishing, could also be impacted.
– Construction: This year, there are almost $1 billion in construction contracts in 45 communities across the state managed by ADOT&PF staff. Without staff, the state could lose millions in federal funding and construction activities will stop. Any delays could potentially result in damage claims from contractors as state construction companies will cease work, putting thousands of Alaskans out of work.
– Whittier Tunnel: The longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America provides access to Whittier, Alaska. In 2015, approximately 240,000 vehicles traveled through the tunnel.
– Planning and Design: ADOT&PF planning section is responsible for identifying and designing future road, airport and ferry facility projects. Without continued design work, millions of future federal funding could be at risk. Approximately 55 percent of planning and design functions are contracted out to private companies across Alaska. Without staff this work could not continue.
– Weights and Measures: Responsible for ensuring fairness in the marketplace by certifying the accuracy of weighing and measuring devices used in commerce. An interruption in these services could impact commerce across the state.
– Road Maintenance and Operations: Crews could potentially not complete bridge maintenance, remove brush, repair potholes and rutting, road striping and crack sealing on over 5,600 miles of state-maintained highway.
– Aviation Leasing: Responsible for leasing property at rural state-owned airports to private businesses. Leases would not be renewed, potentially causing businesses to close.
– Public Facilities: Responsible for operating and maintaining 720 public facilities throughout the state. All contracted work could stop and buildings would not receive regular maintenance. This could result in costly repairs that are preventable.
“I am hopeful that the legislature will pass a fully funded budget before July 1 so that ADOT&PF can continue to support safe transportation and provide important services Alaskans rely on,” said Commissioner Luiken.
This year’s preparations for a government shutdown are different than in 2015, when the legislature had passed a partially funded budget. This year, money has not been appropriated for any government services. As a government shutdown in Alaska is unprecedented, Department of Law is examining what money could be spent to continue vital state services if the legislature has not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to pass a budget.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 242 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, over 5,600 miles of highway and 731 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”