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Southeast Conference Transportation Committee

Chair Dennis Watson, Co-chair Chelsea Goucher

Next Scheduled Meeting

January 29, 2018
11 am, January 29 at the Willoughby Ave office and online (1-877-378-0449 code # 8249 4332).

Agenda:
 
Call to Order: Chair Dennis Watson
Roll Call
Approval of Agenda
 
New Business:
AKDOT&PF Southcoast Region updates from Lance Mearig, Regional Director for the Southcoast region joining us in the JEDC conference room along with Verne Skagerberg, Southcoast Region Planning Chief.
Aviation issues and updates
Mid-Session Summit, February 13-14 in Juneau
Good of the Order
Adjourn

 

Transportation Goal Statement

Support a consistent, reliable regional transportation system that enables predictable, financially sustainable, efficient transportation for a prosperous regional economy and access to medical care and cultural events.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths Weaknesses
  • We are experienced with integrated multimodal transportation and partnerships.
  • We have an emerging shipyard and skilled workforce.
  • High transportation costs and aging infrastructure.
  • Small populations spread out across long geographic distances.
Opportunities Threats
  • Depoliticize transportation (funding and regulatory) while developing collaboration and partnerships. 
  • Develop new vessel classes for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
  • State budget crisis.    
  • Demographics: population losses, loss of political power, economic center moving away from region.

Transportation Priority Objectives

Priority Objective #1: Minimize Impacts of Budget Cuts to AMHS, and Develop a Sustainable, Long-term Operational Model for AMHS

The Alaska Marine Highway System is at a critical juncture. To weather this storm of low oil prices, declining oil production and budget pressure it will need a carefully thought-out strategy that will provide essential transportation services to coastal communities. Since its first port of call, the Alaska Marine Highway has provided access to rural communities and generated substantial economic growth and improved quality of life for Alaskans. It has become a vital socio-economic engine even more now than when it was conceived half a century ago. Southeast Conference is actively taking steps to update the system into a responsive and predictable marine highway that will transcend political and administration shifts, a system that will partner with communities and have shared responsibility and accountability for the success of that system. This transportation corridor for Alaska operates in an environment with market, political and operational challenges unlike anywhere else in the world. Its service mandate is broad; its markets are small and diverse. Success over the long-term will require a carefully crafted combination of management, operations and funding strategies. Elements of this objective include:

  • Design a new strategic operating plan for AMHS
  • Lower State’s general fund subsidy percentage
  • Fleet Renewal Plan
  • Empowerment of the Marine Transportation Advisory Board
  • AMHS Value Outreach

Other Transportation Objectives:

Objective #2: Road Development

Expand use of the existing road network. The region has the same transportation options that were available in the late ‘60s, and roads are difficult and
costly to build in the region. Several roads in the region are not being used in an intermodal fashion, and other roads are under utilized. We need to improve utilization of existing road systems while maximizing use of ferries.

Develop new roads and expanded access. This includes “roads to resources” that will provide access to resources that are important for economic development. Continue and complete design on access corridor.

Objective #3: Move freight to and from markets more efficiently.

Freight barges are critical to the regional economy, supplying the region with 90 to 95% of its freight. Determine best way to move perishables to and from markets in Southeast Alaska. Includes moving fish to markets outside Alaska more quickly, and moving perishable groceries to regional stores. Reduce the cost of transporting goods into, out of and within the region. In the Southeast Alaska Business Climate Survey, four out of five respondents identified the cost of freight as a barrier or a significant barrier to their business operations, and prices are increasing. Work with the transportation industry to find creative ways to reduce the costs for the transportation of goods, especially for less-than-container loads. Explore freight forwarding at the international border.

Objective #4: Ensure the stability of the existing regional transportation services outside of AMHS.

Support transportation services in the region. Water and air transportation are vital to the lives of most residents and to commerce between communities in and beyond the region. Only three communities (Haines, Skagway and Hyder) are directly connected to highways outside of the region. Alaska and Delta Airlines provide jet service to the region, and many smaller airlines provide connectivity and passenger service between the communities. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority is a public ferry system that provides daily service between Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan. These transportation networks are an economic engine for the region, generating jobs, commerce, and tourism - while also increasing community wellbeing.