West Susitna Access
| in partnership with
On July 27, 2023, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) announced its intent to develop a separate project for a public road and associated facilities in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley to meet the region’s growing demand for improved access to public land, personal properties, waterways, and recreational areas west of the Little Susitna and Susitna Rivers.
With DOT&PF taking steps to expedite development of a public road, AIDEA will turn its attention to a separate project in the planning and development of an access corridor to reach mining, energy, agricultural, and other economic interests in the area.
* See 07-28-23 AIDEA Press Release || West Susitna Access Project Update
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding the DOT&PF Project:
Why is DOT&PF planning to build a public road across the Susitna River?
The Mat-Su Valley is the fastest growing region in Alaska, and the need for public transportation facilities is also growing. Residents require access to public lands, private properties, waterways, and recreational areas west of the Little Susitna, Fish Creek, and the Susitna River.
Is federal infrastructure funding contributing to the DOT&PF-managed road?
Yes. The State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), managed by DOT&PF, receives annual formula funds to invest into planning, permitting, constructing, and maintaining Alaska roads, bridges, and other public facilities. With the passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), DOT&PF is receiving substantial supplemental funding to invest into building and maintaining Alaska’s transportation infrastructure. The STIP for 2024-2027 contains funding for planning, permitting, and constructing the road and associated facilities. DOT&PF will design the road to federal safety standards, and will oversee the management of constructing and maintaining this public road.
When would construction of DOT&PF’s facilities commence?
The State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) that was released in July 2023 includes funds dedicated to planning and developing the public road to meet federal safety standards. DOT&PFs Planning, permitting, and advanced design of the road and facilities will commence immediately. DOT&PF hopes to begin construction on the new public road and facilities in 2026.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Regarding the AIDEA Project:
Is AIDEA also pursuing a road?
AIDEA will continue working on a separate project for an industrial access corridor to advance access to several mines. AIDEA’s effort will consider a variety of options including slurry lines, conveyor systems, and roads to advance economic development and jobs for Alaska.
Project Benefits for the AIDEA-led Effort
As shown in the 2023 Economic Analysis Results for the West Susitna Access Project, the potential economic benefits of the access corridor project includes the delivery of many new opportunities for Alaskans! For a summary of this report, we encourage you to refer to the 2023 WSAP Economic Analysis Highlights.
The following are examples of how state’s economy will enjoy growth and jobs from the extraction of minerals, oil and gas development, agricultural production, harvest of timber resources, harnessing of alternative energy, and recreation access.
- Mining: Gold, silver, copper, strategic metals
- Agricultural: 65,000 acres to improve Alaska's food security
- Energy: Oil, gas, and carbon ore potential
- Forest/Timber: Harvest of timber for sale or to remove beetle-killed forest to reduce wildfire risk.
- Jobs: Thousands of career-track jobs in mining, energy, construction, and transportation sectors.
- Recreational Access: 6 million acres
- Telecommunications: Options for bringing broadband to the region
- Emergency Services: Access for fire suppression and search & rescue teams
- Land Sales: Road access to tracts of land offered in state land sales
In 2019 AIDEA and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provided a partnership framework for a phased feasibility analysis of the West Susitna Access. AIDEA and MSB, along with Alaska Operations LLC, were the initial public and private partners in Phase 2 of the West Susitna Access Project. Other private entities may participate in future development efforts.
On July 26, 2023, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) announced its intent to develop a public road and associated facilities in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley to meet the region’s growing demand for improved access to public land, personal properties, waterways, and recreational areas west of the Little Susitna and Susitna Rivers. DOT&PF has requested from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), access to design and planning documents that were developed for the West Susitna Access Corridor for use in its forthcoming planning and permitting efforts to develop this public road. AIDEA is providing this information to DOT&PF with the understanding that the state transportation agency intends to use it to expedite development of the public road, which will include access to a new boat launch at the lower Susitna River and a public campground at the road’s terminus on the river’s west side. Since ADOT&PF is taking steps to expedite development of the public road, AIDEA will turn its attention to planning and development of an industrial utility and access corridor beyond the terminus of the road to reach mining, energy, agricultural, and other economic interests in the area.
The project will touch on land use planning. Alaska’s Legislature directed land use plans are required for the utilization of state-owned land. Alaska Statute 38.04.065: (a) Except as provided in (d) and (h) of this section, the commissioner shall, with local governmental and public involvement under AS 38.05.945, adopt, maintain, and, when appropriate, revise regional land use plans that provide for the use and management of state-owned land.
The process under which this project will go forward assures meaningful participation in the planning for access and road development. Local governments, state and federal agencies, area land owners and the public will be involved at each step along the way as any regional land use Plan is adopted.
A non-profit group based in the Mat-Su Borough, “the Friends of West Susitna”, formed in 2022 to support the West Susitna Access Project. AIDEA is in communication with the Board of this non-profit and intends on providing updates to them as the project develops.