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Cash-strapped Ambler Road project gets boost from AIDEA to complete permitting

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A Visit To Alaska, the 49th State



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Cash-strapped Ambler Road project gets boost from AIDEA to complete permitting

was written by Wesley Early, KOTZ – Kotzebue , 2019-10-26 00:31:30

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(Image via KOTZ)

The state’s investment arm is pumping $718,000 more into a cash-strapped project designed to open up mineral exploration in Northwest Alaska. 

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s board approved additional funding for the proposed Ambler Road on Wednesday. The project would stretch from the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District northeast of Kotzebue and cross Gates of the Arctic National Park. 

Critics say there are environmental concerns over routing through a national park. Others are concerned with impacts to federal subsistence rights. 

AIDEA President Tom Boutin says the cash infusion will help it complete federal permitting. The Bureau of Land Management is completing an environmental impact statement. 

After that, he says, engineering and construction costs will be easier to predict. 

“Those numbers are a lot more easily defined going forward than what was the case through the EIS process,” Boutin said.

The state has spent about $26 million on the Ambler Road project over the past decade. But the Anchorage Daily News reports the project had less than $33,000 dollars left in reserves before this week. The recently approved funding comes from AIDEA, which is separate from the state’s general fund.

Boutin told AIDEA’s board of directors to anticipate spending between $25 and $50 million before construction and another $350 million to build the 200 miles of road. 

Boutin says the process for the Ambler Road has taken a long time to come to fruition, but he says the state’s financing of the project is modeled on Red Dog, a zinc and lead mine 81 miles north of Kotzebue. 

“What occurred with the Red Dog financing and construction and subsequent mineral development pioneered what has happened up to now,” Boutin said.

BLM is accepting public comments on the draft EIS through Tuesday, Oct. 29.

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a trip to Alaska

Going To the State of Alaska

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Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay is located in southeast Alaska, around 60 air miles west of the state capital of Juneau. The closest town is Gustavus, Alaska located 11 miles away. Glacier Bay National Park at present includes more than 3 million acres, and is often called as one of the Crown Jewels of the National Park system. The Park has snow-capped mountain ranges soaring to 15,000 feet, seaside beaches with protected coves, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers, coastal and estuarine waters, and fresh water ponds. In addition to magnificent vistas, there are plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities along with a wide range of seabirds, sea and land mammals. Many visitors experience Glacier Bay National Park while on big cruise ships that visit the Park for the day, whereas others stay inside the Park at the Glacier Bay Lodge. While there are no roads to Glacier Bay National Park, you will find convenient air connections to Gustavus from Juneau, Skagway and Haines. Ferry service is also offered by Juneau. From Gustavus it is about 10 miles by road to Glacier Bay Lodge & Tours situated at Bartlett cove and is home to the visitor center and departure point for day boat tours to Glacier Bay National Park. Lodging within Glacier Bay National Park are at the Glacier Bay Lodge. The hotel features 56 rooms along with dining, activities desk, gift shop, and the Park visitor center can be found upstairs. Just about all rooms possess private bath and/or shower and can accommodate up to 4 guests. Glacier Bay Lodge is open mid-May to mid-September each year.

a vacation in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, the Last Frontier

A Trip To Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, the Last Frontier