Alaska No. 1 in per capita funding under the federal infrastructure law

Alaska has gotten more money per capita from the federal infrastructure law passed in 2021 than any other state, according to participants at a news conference where the latest injection of funds for the state was announced.

Alaska’s member of the U.S. House, Rep. Mary Peltola, and officials from the Biden administration used the event at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage to announce awards totaling $100 million for broadband service in three rural areas. That brings Alaska broadband funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to about $2 billion, the officials said.

The money generally is going to rural areas that lack any service or a usable level of high-speed internet.

In total, Alaska has received over $5 billion through the act for multiple projects and programs, according to the White House.

The state’s three-member congressional delegation, all Republicans at the time, supported the bill, unlike other members in their party. Peltola, a Democrat, succeeded the late Republican Rep. Don Young in 2022.

The broadband funding, provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program, is for three Alaska projects: $29.9 million to Bush-Tell for fiber service in the Bethel and Yukon-Kuskokwim areas, $35 million for Unicom for fiber connections in the Bethel, and Kusilvak areas and $34.9 million to Cordova Telephone Cooperative for fiber and wireless internet to serve the Hoonah-Angoon area.

The broadband grant announcements in August were the latest in a series of Alaska infrastructure investment announcements.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Alaska a week earlier and highlighted investments in the state, including support for the ongoing $1.8 billion modernization of the port in Anchorage and critical funds for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau spoke at the Aug. 22 news conference of how the infrastructure bill has helped address climate change in Alaska. He cited two grants for relocation work in the eroding Yup’ik villages of Newtok and Napakiak as examples.

Many Alaska Native communities “are on the front lines of changes that we see happening throughout the world,” he said. “Alaska is the point of the spear on … erosion, permafrost melt and extreme weather events that are impacting small towns and villages and communities.”

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization. Alaskabeacon.com.

 

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