King Cove optimistic ‘life-saving road’ will get built under Trump administration
It’s been three years to the day since Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell denied a road from King Cove to the neighboring community of Cold Bay. Now, residents have a renewed hope to push the project through under a Trump administration.
The people of King Cove have been fighting for an 11-mile, one-lane gravel road for years. The small village on the Alaska Peninsula is often socked in with severe weather — high winds and heavy fog that make it difficult for emergency aircraft to land at its airport.
Cold Bay, however, has the second-longest runway in the state and can easily accommodate Coast Guard helicopters and medevac planes. The bad weather usually hampers King Cove residents from getting to Cold Bay in an emergency –even by hovercraft — which is why they said the road is a life-saving measure.
Secretary Jewell visited the village in August 2013. She heard stories from community members about elders being medevaced out in crab pots because it was too dangerous to find another way out.
Though, King Cove Mayor Henry Mack said Jewell didn’t really listen to what was being said.
Montana congressman Ryan Zinke is expected to take over the Secretary of Interior position when President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Mack said he’s optimistic there will be change.
“It’s not a given by any means but with different personalities in there and they see our story and we still have that need to safe access to Cold Bay,” Mack said.
Secretary Jewell denied the project citing concern for the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, through which the proposed road would be built.
“It is a very important and unique habitat and the determination by the Fish and Wildlife Service is, it would be very disruptive to build a road through that area,” Jewell said in an interview in Washington, D.C. in March 2014.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been a major advocate for the community. She released a statement Friday saying she’s hopeful a new administration will mean another shot for the road.
“I will do everything I can to work with our new president to end the years of suffering and injustice that King Cove has faced at the hands of our own federal government. I truly hope that as a result of new leadership for our country, help is finally on the way for King Cove,” Murkowski said in the release.
In exchange for the 206 acres they need to build the road, the village was willing to give 61,000 acres of corporation and state land to the federal government. Jewell rejected that deal as well.
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