Commuting from the Matanuska-Susitna Valley to Anchorage may get easier.
Gov. Sean Parnell signed House Bill 23 into law Friday, a measure that funds the construction of the Knik Arm Crossing, a 1.7-mile toll bridge that would cross the Cook Inlet and connect Anchorage to the Mat-Su Borough.
The $892 million bridge would benefit Alaskans by creating at least 1,500 jobs, said Carolyn Kuckertz, Senate Majority press secretary, in a statement.
It would also increase safety while curbing traffic congestion, Kuckertz said.
“If something catastrophic were to cause significant damage to the Glenn Highway, the supply line between Anchorage and Mat-Su Valley and Interior Alaska would be paralyzed,” Kuckertz wrote. “This second corridor provides a critical alternative route during emergencies and evacuations.”
By the time the crossing is built in about five years, there will be 100,000 more vehicles using the Glenn Highway, said Republican Sen. Anna Fairclough, who represents Anchorage and Eagle River.
The benefits will reach beyond Southcentral Alaska, Kuckertz said. Freight costs for the Interior and North Slope are expected to drop an estimated $300 million over 10 years, she said.
HB 23, which passed this past legislative session, turned control of the funding to the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities from the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA).
The crossing has faced opposition over its potential impact on the Government Hill neighborhood, along with worries about keeping the toll low enough so it would be economical for drivers to use it.