President's Message

Alaska has its flaw — it lacks infrastructure

Fact: Alaska encompasses about 375 million acres. That’s about twice the size of Texas, no offense to our friends from Texas.
Fact: Alaska has more than 33,000 miles of coastline.
Fact: Alaska’s population is 741,894, which is one person for every 505.5 acres.
Fact: Rural Alaska has the highest cost of goods and services in the United States.
Fact: Alaska has an abundance of natural resources, one of the largest in the United States.
Fact: Many of Alaska’s natural resources are expensive to extract and take to market due to the lack of infrastructure and the cost to do business in an arctic/remote environment.

Alaska is unique in so many ways, but the things that make it unique can also sometimes be flaws. For example, the incredible vastness of our state is unmatched, but it hinders transportation and access to rural and remote Alaska.

Communities, both urban and remote, rely on aging or nonexistent transportation infrastructure in many locations. Alaska, being the second-youngest state and being geographically remote, lacks the infrastructure that many states in the Lower 48 take for granted. This is especially true in many of our rural and coastal communities.

Connecting rural communities to larger communities such as Barrow, Nome, Dillingham and Bethel or to larger cities such as Anchorage requires infrastructure — infrastructure built by the members and supporters of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska.

Projects, communities and even ways of life depend on transportation to and from every corner of our great state. But infrastructure is also necessary for Alaska’s natural resource development and the industries that support it.

Every additional road, port, bridge, rail extension, dam and runway can help lower the cost of goods and services to a community as well as lower the costs for potential resource development. Examples include fishing, mining, timber, and oil and gas projects.

Over the years, I have heard many colleagues say that Alaska is broke and that we cannot afford to build high-dollar or even mid-range projects. Actually, Alaska has billions in the bank and the financial ability to take on projects one phase at a time.

It’s unfortunate that Alaskans often expect the federal government to build our infrastructure with the hope that these projects will lead us to prosperity. I believe Alaska should invest the people’s money in the right opportunities to build our own way back to prosperity.

In fact, a state dollar goes further in a construction buildout than a federal dollar does. Federal dollars often have strings attached and many stipulations on how to spend those dollars. But each state dollar counts for construction projects in Alaska, from hospitals to airports to bridges.

Alaskans are and have always been forward-thinkers. Today more than ever we need to move forward with large-scale projects that give us opportunities over the long term. We need to quit thinking about today and start building for the future.

Across the country, every day, there are billion-dollar projects being built by states with no money or less money and opportunity than Alaska has. Alaska has the capital to grow our economy by building and improving access to our communities and resources.

New construction and the maintenance of existing infrastructure are necessary for the growth, safety and success of communities, as well as the industries they depend on like fishing, mining, oil and gas, tourism, the forest industry and other job-creating fields in Alaska. As these industries grow, we must prepare for it.

AGC members stand ready to build out Alaska’s infrastructure needs because WE BUILD ALASKA.