April 8, 2003
TO: The United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on Alaska Transportation Needs in Palmer,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before this committee, and thank you for taking the time to hold this field hearing here in Alaska.
Economic development is critical for Alaska. The foundation of this development is transportation infrastructure: roads, railroads, seaports and airports.
I strongly support the goals of the Denali Commission as expressed to you by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman.
I respectfully request that you especially consider the value a Knik Arm Crossing will have for Alaska in connecting two of its largest population centers: Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Today, these regions remain largely separated because of lengthy travel time and road choke points. A highway and rail bridge from the heart of Anchorage to the open land of Point Mackenzie will permit the kind of environmentally-sound development Alaska needs.
In addition, I believe it is important to complete “the last transcontinental railroad” by extending the Alaska Railroad to Fort Greely, with the final goal being a complete connection to the North American rail system.
I also strongly support: 1. the construction of pioneer roads, beginning with a road from Nenana to McGrath, and 2. the expansion and upgrade of the harbor at Whittier. I believe pioneer roads can prove valuable in improving the lives of many rural Alaskans. With road and rail connection in place, and proximity to Anchorage, a world-class harbor at Whitter could prove a gateway to the export of Alaska’s resources and import of goods from across the Pacific Rim.
Senator John J. Cowdery
Chair, Senate Transportation Committee Senator for Lower Hillside-South Anchorage