Kake Access Committee Chair Cindi Lagoudakis updated the Assembly during Monday night's meeting regarding the latest progress in the Kake Access Environmental Impact Study and Purpose and Need draft.
The Kake Access project is to bring better access to the community of about 500, and could include the construction of a new road, the development of new ferry connections, or a combination. The State in 2012 appropriated $40 million for the project. A project to bring more affordable power to Kake is also in the works as part of support to the remote town.
A Purpose and Need draft has been completed as part of the Kake Access Environmental Impact Study. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is accepting written comments on the draft, from now until August 5.
“I think Petersburg should look at the Purpose and Need statement and think about how we could narrow the scope of what could be considered under this EIS; that all of the things are being proposed are things that we want to consider. And because this process is front-loaded, now would be the time,” Lagoudakis said.
Lagoudakis explained that under new Federal laws, the Kake Access project EIS process is being fast-tracked. She said the Borough could ask for more time for the review. She added that in her online research, she found the average time for the EIS process is about eight years.
“I think there are enough concerns about what is being proposed in the access project that we don’t necessarily want to scurry through it,” she said.
Petersburg Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht said that a lot of people think the access project and the power project are two separate things, but in fact they are linked together. “I had a conversation with the Juneau [Department of Transportation] person, and they are still planning on the premise that the road will be settled and the power line will come in afterwards and follow wherever the road goes. The northern route is the preferred route, by DOT. It’s being pushed by both DOT and on the power line side,” he said.
Lagoudakis concluded her presentation by saying: “When you look at the Purpose and Need statement, it addresses the fact that there is more transportation available during the summertime; in fact there is daily transportation available in the summertime. When I look at this project logically, there is no way the roads are going to be maintained in the wintertime to provide other access that this document says it’s going to address.
Hearings will be held, and the public is encouraged to comment, on July 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Kake City Hall, and in Petersburg on July 24 from 4 to 6 p.m., at the U.S. Forest Service conference room.