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Public meeting held for proposed West Susitna Access Road

Public meeting held for proposed West Susitna Access Road
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 11:46 AM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - The Matanuska-Susitna Borough held a public meeting online Wednesday night centered around the proposed West Susitna Access Road project.

The project is a public-private partnership between the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and the borough, according to the AIDEA website.

Currently, AIDEA and the borough are in the process of determining whether the approximately 100-mile gravel road from the Point Mackenzie area west to a state mining district in the Alaska Range would be feasible. AIDEA touts the benefit of the road will be more mining, timber, and oil and gas opportunities.

“There is quite a bit of opportunity out there, so we are starting to see more interest from other parties and other industries as well,” AIDEA Senior Manager of Project Finance and Asset Management Jesse Peterson said during Wednesday’s meeting.

The area west of the Susitna River where the proposed road would cut through is currently roadless, and those opposed to this project feel it should stay that way.

“People come to Alaska because it is wild and roadless,” Adam Cuthriell, owner of FishHound Expeditions, said Wednesday. “Putting a road across 156 known water crossings will forever change our area.”

Cuthriell added that more public outreach needed to be done regarding this proposed road since he felt that many residents don’t know about it.

“It seems way cart before the horse,” Susitna River Coalition Director Melissa Heuer said, talking about how quickly the project has moved during Wednesday’s meeting.

Heuer went on to urge for more transparency from AIDEA and the borough on this project. The Susitna River Coalition is a conservation group focused on the Susitna River.

In December, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly approved the project to move on to phase three of the project, engineering and permitting. This phase costs $8.5 million and will be funded by the state of Alaska through House Bill 69, which was passed in 2021.

During that meeting in December, many residents who spoke during the public comment period asked the borough for more public outreach. The borough has one more scheduled public meeting regarding the proposed West Susitna Access Road on March 23.

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