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EDITOR, Daily News:
I have received multiple calls and emails from Ketchikan constituents who have voiced concern over the poor condition of our roads, particularly the potholes on Tongass. Ketchikan is, no doubt, experiencing more of a winter than we have in recent years. This makes projects like pothole repair, which the Alaska Department of Transportation considers more advantageous to do in better weather, incredibly tedious. Our maintenance crew is doing double duty with plowing snow and patching our roads.
I have spoken with the Department of Transportation frequently about this issue, and the immediate solution involves bringing on a seasonal laborer. DOT is currently in the process of hiring a temporary maintenance staff member. Weather permitting, the DOT crew will be back to patching potholes soon. I will continue to work with the department to try to get our roads the attention they need.
Additional resurfacing projects are slated to begin in May. Road repair is an ongoing project, especially in the wet and rainy Southeast. We are at the point where further cuts to the state’s budget will harm the services we rely on. One position in Ketchikan was eliminated from the 2016 budget, bringing the maintenance staff down to three people. Overall, the DOT budget has been cut by 35 percent over the past four years.
Although I continue to look for efficiencies in the budget, in some cases, such as within DOT which also houses our ferry budget, I am working to protect the funding we have. We need a long-term fiscal solution to sustain our budget so that we can have safe roads and an adequate ferry system in the future. Please email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov with any concerns or suggestions.
REP. DAN ORTIZ
House District 36