JUNEAU – Today, the House Majority leadership team sent a letter to the Dunleavy Administration demanding swift action to restore the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Coastal Alaska communities face an ongoing crisis that is the result of most state ferries being pulled from operation due to a host of systemic problems. Thousands of people are currently cut off from the outside world, unable to access healthcare, food and essential supplies, and the state’s economy.
“People all over our state are understandably worried about the potential impacts of a coronavirus outbreak. The health of our people could be impacted, supply chains that keep our communities running could break down, and our economy could suffer,” Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) said. “Sadly, a human-caused problem – the mismanagement of our ferries – is already causing store shelves to go empty and a broad crisis that is crippling Coastal Alaska. Our letter encourages the administration to treat this situation like the crisis that it is.”
Representative Stutes, chair of the House Transportation Committee, wrote the letter following a visit to AMHS facilities and the Vigor Shipyard in Ketchikan, where a few AMHS ships are being held out of operation. Speaker Bryce Edgmon and Reps. Neal Foster, Jennifer Johnston, Chuck Kopp, Dan Ortiz, and Steve Thompson also signed the letter.
“Lawmakers can’t fund maintenance requests that are never brought forward, and we can’t use repair dollars effectively without thoughtful planning,” added Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan). “We’re doing everything in our power to solve this crisis, but we need the administration to meet us in the middle. The system badly needs significant investments to support repairs and adequate operations.”
Alaska House Majority