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SALCHA- Groundbreaking ceremonies took place yesterday in Salcha for the new Tanana River bridge. When completed the bridge will span nearly one mile and be able to accommodate both wheeled and rail transport. It was designed to provide dependable access to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.
The Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, or JPARC is the nation’s largest and foremost training area for our nation’s military branches. When coupled with the Gulf of Alaska Training Area, the different branches have the ability to train in real life scenarios without disrupting communities, making it a one of a kind training locale.
“Building this bridge allows commanders to plan training for brigade-sized elements in both the winter and the summer,” Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus, Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard, said. “Before, the Army would use an ice bridge to cross the river, and could only effectively train using wheeled-vehicles during some of the coldest months of winter, severely limiting the potential use of JPARC.”
Partial funding for the bridge was secured six years ago in Representative Don Young’s highway bill, SAFETEA-LU, it provided $5 million for design, engineering, permitting and construction. Don Young was in attendance for the ceremonies yesterday.
Speaking at the event, Representative Young had this to say, “I have always believed in this bridge. Six years ago, I was proud to have been able to secure funding for it in my highway bill, SAFETEA-LU and today, I am proud to be here to help break ground on such a crucial project.”
“This is a very good project not only for the Interior, but for all of Alaska,” said Rep. Young. “Alaska’s economic future depends on our ability to build our infrastructure and develop our resources. By extending existing infrastructure as well expanding development in new parts of the state, the Tanana River Bridge is exactly the type of project our state needs.
Governor Sean Parnell called Wednesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the Tanana River Bridge a sign that the state is not only open for diverse business, but a willing economic development partner with the federal government.
“This facility (JPARC) is often overlooked in our strategy to attract new business to the state,” Governor Parnell said. “Building this bridge shows we are committed to making sound infrastructure investments to diversify and grow our economy.”
The bridge is expected to be open for use in the summer of 2013.