Writing in Roll Call, John Stanton reports that staffers of the two Senators and a relative of the lone House member from Alaska’s congressional delegation own land in the undeveloped area that, should the Knik Arm “bridge to nowhere” be built, would be poised to become a prime suburb of Anchorage. (The link is subscription only, but TPM Muckraker has some quotes.) Over at RealTime, my colleague Anupama Narayanswamy has an interview with Andrew Halcro, a former Alaskan state representative, a 2006 gubernatorial candidate, and a pretty good blogger. Halcro talked about his experiences with the now former chairman and CEO of the oil services firm Veco Corp., Bill Allen, who along with another company official recently pled guilty to charges of bribing four Alaska state lawmakers.
I mention the two together because, while there’s no suburb in Mat-Su Borough (which the Knik Arm “bridge to nowhere” would link to Anchorage), there is a facility, known as Port MacKenzie, now operating as a deepwater harbor. Among the firms operating there is Veco Corp., and if you read the project descriptions for Port MacKenzie (and also for the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA), you’ll find that the justification given for the bridge is not residential real estate speculation, but rather industrial opportunities:
Port MacKenzie is the logical area for commercial and industrial expansion adjacent to Anchorage.
Port MacKenzie is the only Southcentral port site not constrained by urbanization. The 14 square miles of uplands are dedicated solely for commercial/industrial development.
The Knik Arm bridge proposal has been around for quite a while — for over 50 years, according to KABATA. There are several groups that have to agree on the project–Congress, the state legislature and governor, local authorities, the business community and of course the citizens of Alaska as well. It seems to me that the interplay among these different groups in advancing the development of Port MacKenzie and perhaps even the construction of Knik Arm bridge are worth exploring more closely, something we’ll try to do in more depth over at RealTime.