JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska has budgeted $7.3 million to plan the construction of a road network that would extend hundreds of miles (kilometers) across the Arctic.
The Arctic Strategic Transportation and Resource Project has been promoted as a plan to connect isolated communities in the northern part of the state, some only accessible by plane, and to develop oil fields, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported (http://bit.ly/2wNuaio ) on Thursday.
The first phase of the project is focused on construction of a transportation corridor connecting the North Slope Borough cities of Utqiagvik and Nuiqsut. Additional routes would be added to connect other communities and oil development operations.
Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, said the road network would make finding and developing oil fields in the Arctic easier because the network would cross the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Building the project’s first phase and planning could cost more than $300 million, the state estimated.
While the full cost of the entire project has not been calculated, it would require major funding that the state hopes the U.S. government would finance.
State Rep. Dean Westlake, a Democrat whose district includes the North Slope Borough, said connecting the communities with roads would provide better access to goods and services for residents of the remote area.
Project opponents cited studies on recently canceled megaprojects as wasting money. They also cited the potential adverse effects of oil developments on the region.
The state plans to begin consulting with the communities that would be affected this winter.
Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org