No new money for Shakwak roadwork

For the third year in a row, the United States House of Representatives hasn't earmarked any more cash for the Shakwak portion of the Alaska Highway.

For the third year in a row, the United States House of Representatives hasn’t earmarked any more cash for the Shakwak portion of the Alaska Highway.

A transportation bill, passed last week, made no mention of the project to improve Yukon highways that connect mainland Alaska to the panhandle.

The Shakwak Agreement was signed by the governments of Canada and United States in 1977.

It lays out responsibilities for 523 kilometres of road – the Canadian portion of the Haines Road from Haines, Alaska, to Haines Junction and the northern portion of the Alaska Highway from Haines Junction to the Alaska Border.

U.S. cash came in every year until 2012, when the American government pulled the project’s inclusion from the federal Highways Act funding.

In the Yukon legislative assembly on Monday, NDP MLA Lois Moorcroft asked what the Yukon government was doing to try and get the money flowing again.

“Previous years’ budgets were $19.7 million and $26.7 million for Shakwak. This year’s budget allocated $9.9 million for road improvements through Shakwak, mainly to deal with permafrost degradation,” she said.

“However, without Shakwak funding in place, Alaska Highway paving efforts between Haines Junction and Beaver Creek have been put on hold.”

Highways Minister Scott Kent said the Yukon government will continue to lobby the Americans for Shakwak funding, as it has done since the money was halted.

He mentioned 85 to 90 per cent of travellers on that section of highway are Americans, either travelling from southeast Alaska into the interior or from the Lower 48 states to visit Alaska.

Kent said he has plans to speak with the new federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, about Shakwak during an upcoming phone call.

Premier Darrell Pasloski said he will also be raising the issue with the minister of foreign affairs, Stephane Dion, and the prime minister.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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