Merging ports in Alaska to address infrastructure needs comes with questions

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The governor of Alaska wants to merge the Port of Alaska and a port in Knik Arm and form a regional port authority in the hopes of addressing infrastructure needs for both cargo handlers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants to spend millions on port improvements, including work on a rail extension from the Alaska Railroad mainline to Port MacKenzie in Mat-Su. The extension began more than five years ago but now needs $200 million before it can be completed.

The proposal wants both ports to coordinate their infrastructure needs instead of making requests separately. Some officials believe the idea of forming a port authority would help leverage future federal infrastructure dollars by presenting a unified front.

“If the Port of Alaska and Port MacKenzie had a joint management plan in place it could result in a more reliable flow of goods into Alaska, including greater food security, especially if a natural disaster were to happen,” a spokesman for the governor said in a statement.

The state legislature will be taking a closer look at the possible merger in the coming weeks.

Some officials are not entirely on board with the idea and believe the proposal may not be beneficial for the Port of Alaska and would provide funding for another port, Port MacKenzie, which has been low on traffic for years.

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